To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Thursday, October 29, 2020

New Observercast

Squeezing Congress

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BY FRANK P. BELCASTRO

Why has health-care reform stalled in Congress? Mainly because Congress can’t decide how to pay for it.

Why has the public option become such a lightening rod? The American Medical Association is dead-set against it, Big Pharma rejects it out of hand, and the biggest insurance companies won’t consider it.

No other issue in the current health-care debate is as fiercely opposed by the medical establishment and their lobbies now swarming over Capitol Hill. Of course, they don’t want it. A public option would squeeze their profits and force them to undertake major reforms. That’s the whole point.

The public option is just that – an option. No one has to choose it. Individuals and families will merely be invited to compare costs and outcomes.

Private insurers say a public option would have an unfair advantage. Being the one public plan, it will have large economies of scale that will enable it to negotiate more favorable terms with pharmaceutical companies and other providers.

But why, exactly, is this unfair? Isn’t the whole point of cost containment to provide the public with health care on more favorable terms?

Private plans could seek similar deals. And why haven’t they done this so far? Fat profits, that’s why.

Tell Congress you want the public option.

Frank P. Belcastro lives in Dubuque, IA and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer

Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.