Friday, August 21, 2009
The New York Times
According to news reports, the Obama administration — which seemed, over the weekend, to be backing away from the “public option” for health insurance — is shocked and surprised at the furious reaction from progressives.
Well, I’m shocked and surprised at their shock and surprise.
A backlash in the progressive base — which pushed President Obama over the top in the Democratic primary and played a major role in his general election victory — has been building for months. The fight over the public option involves real policy substance, but it’s also a proxy for broader questions about the president’s priorities and overall approach.
The idea of letting individuals buy insurance from a government-run plan was introduced in 2007 by Jacob Hacker of Yale, was picked up by John Edwards during the Democratic primary, and became part of the original Obama health care plan.
One purpose of the public option is to save money. Experience with Medicare suggests that a government-run plan would have lower costs than private insurers; in addition, it would introduce more competition and keep premiums down....(Remainder.)