For months, the "public option"—a plan for a government-run health insurance program that would compete with private coverage—has been the most contentious point in the health care debate. Many observers have speculated it could sink health care reform altogether. But in a surprise turn yesterday, Senate majority leader Harry Reid announced a compromise plan put together by 10 Democrats — five liberal and five centrist — that reportedly swaps the out the full-blown public option in the health care bill for a basket of smaller changes, such as creating privately-run nonprofit insurance providers and lowering the age of the Medicare eligibility from 65 to 55. Have conservatives just won a big battle against Obamacare--or does the new plan make Democrats more likely to accomplish their healthcare goals?
The new plan is as good or better than the old public option: "The details will be important here," but the deal looks "pretty good," says Ezra Klein at The Washington Post. The combination of non-profit providers and a medicare buy-in for 55 year olds "is more promising" than the recent watered-down versions of the public option. When people see that buying into Medicare is "20 to 30 percent" cheaper than private insurance, expect everyone to start clamoring for the right to buy in.
"The team of 10 reaches a deal on the public option"
Democrats will still find a way to socialize health care: A dead public option is good news, says John Hinderaker in Power Line, but depending on what replaces it, this could be "one of those breathless headlines that don't ultimately amount to much." The details matter, but in the end, "Democrats don't really need the public option to achieve their goal of government control over your health care."
"Goodbye public option?"
Compromise? This is surrender: News of the demise of the public option is a "bitter disappointment," says Mike Lux at Open Left. What we seem to be left with is "a deeply flawed bill" that will neither "control costs" nor curb the power of insurance companies. The Democratic base will also feel let down and that could mean tough times ahead in the 2010 and 2012 elections.