President Obama: “No lines in the sand” on a Public Health Plan
In a comment that is sure to send President Obama’s base into low earth-orbit, the Associated Press reports President Obama leaves the door open to ejecting the Public plan option from his health care reform bill:
On health care, Obama left open the door to abandoning his demand that people under any revamped system have the option of choosing coverage from a government-funded program.
“We are still early in this process,” he said. “So, you know, we have not drawn lines in the sand other than reform has to control costs and that it has to provide relief to people who don’t have health insurance or are under insured.”
Just before President Obama’s media conference in which he offers up the public plan option as not essential, the American Health Insurance Plan Association and Blue Cross Blue Shield Association sent a letter up to the U.S. Senate HELP Committee opposing the inclusion of a public plan option.
From the Washington Post:
Shortly before Obama entered the White House briefing room, two key health industry groups — the America’s Health Insurance Plans and Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association — sent a letter to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee outlining their opposition to the inclusion of a public option in the legislation.
“A government plan option — in any form — is unnecessary to achieve comprehensive reform and would have devastating consequences on the health insurance coverage that employers and individuals currently have, the federal budget deficit and existing provider systems,” the groups said.
I wonder what Paul Krugman of the New York Times will say about this, since his last column rips conservative Democrats for balking at the health reform bills now before Congress.
Meanwhile, the Daily Kos is re-posting an alert to its members to call the White House to get President Obama to keep his public plan option.
But the health care reform shoes just keep dropping. There are now a series of sustained attacks on the phrase often repeated by the President about keeping your own health plan. Maybe not. James C. Capretta, in the Corner, tags President Obama hard for his redefinition of his often-repeated promise “if you like your plan, you can keep it.”
What he meant, he now says, is that the government wouldn’t force people out of their health-care plan. If tens of millions of people get pushed out of their current coverage, it would be because firms chose to drop their insurance plans — never mind the fact that they would do so based on the financial incentives the government put in place.
The president’s “clarification” seems highly unlikely to be the final word on this. For starters, it doesn’t matter much to the voting public who pulls the trigger. They don’t want today’s stable, job-based coverage turned upside by “reform.” When they hear that tens of millions of people will get moved out of employer plans and into the “government option,” they will wonder if they themselves will have to switch insurance — and most don’t want to. The president’s comments today aren’t likely to put their fears to rest.
This is the equivalent of Plutonium 244 in the health care reform tea.
If the 180 million people with health insurance believe that they will be pushed into to a government health care plan — by their employers or by the conditions the government plan creates in the market — it is the death kneel for the Public/government option.
Even the NY Daily News is getting into the pound the health reform plan act.