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Friday, October 23, 2009

Why do they public option oponents rage ?

I think everyone knows this, but I will repeat it here. Senators who claim to be moderate are willing to threaten to block reform if it includes a public option.
Bloggers ask how they could possibly have such extreme views on one narrow issue ?
(before I linked to Yglesias via Benen without linking to Benen so I am making up for it). Long enough ago that I don't have a link, Ezra Klein noted that all of the public options under discussion are hobbled, because people who get insurance from their employers will not have the option. So what's the big deal.

Many people (links forgotten again but I suspect Kevin Drum) have explained that public option opponents assume that it is stealth single payer. That if everyone can opt for public insurance, everyone will, and that all limits in the current bill will be swept away when people find out how much they can gain if they have access to the public option.

As proposed it is narrow but it will be Wydened (that it the only appropriate word for eliminating the barrier which keeps people who get insurance from their employers as proposed by Ron Wyden). This is actually fairly clear. In his efforts to block the Wyden amendment in the Finance committee, Sen Max Baucus declared it out of order on the grounds that it had not been scored by the CBO even though it had been scored by the CBO.

To opponents, the only ways to stop the public option from growing into single payer are to block it entirely or to cripple it so that it won't be able to charge low premia.

Limits on who has access such as the unWydened current provision or state level opt outs just won't stop it. Breaking it up into many little public or cooperative options will, because most of low costs will be due to piggy backing on medicare's bargaining power.

Opt *in* might OK for them. If it starts slowly and never take off. Opt out, not so much. Even if roughly half of states opt out, they won't stay out when people get angry over how much premia fall the instant you cross a state line.

Even if it is a little aspect of reform now, it can't be kept from growing except by strangling it in its cradle.

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