The Public Option Lives!



Dave Mann

Well, at least for the moment.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters in San Francisco today that the health care bill she passes out of the House will contain a version of the much-debated public option.

That jibes with what I wrote on Tuesday, when I contended that the public option wasn’t dead. Yet.

A lot of pundits called for removal of the public option this week, including Steve Pearlstein, the Pulitzer Prize winner at the Washington Post and that paper’s editorial board

Both of them chided liberals for their obsession with the public option. That seems too harsh to me. If you’re a believer in single-payer health care, you probably view this moment as an historic opportunity, given the Democrats rare position of immense power, to move toward single payer. If Democrats can’t pass even a limited public-insurance plan now, it may never happen. So you can understand the desperation, whether you support the public option or not.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It looks like the House bill will have a public option. Then the real fight will be in the Senate. The Post predicts there’s no way a bill with a public option can clear the 60-vote, filibuster hurdle in the Senate. They’re probably right, but let’s see how it plays out.

If you’re curious about how the different plans currently bouncing around in Congress compare, the Kaiser Family Foundation has a handy side-by-side comparison page. You can select the different plans and compare their elements. It’s a policy geek’s dream come true. 

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Dave Mann is a former editor of the Observer.