GOP Won’t Support a Public Option

It’s a knife that cuts both ways:

Republicans’ primary objection is the Democrats’ push for a public health insurance plan that would serve as an alternative to private coverage. Republicans say such a plan would cause the private insurance market to unravel.

There is also the potential 10-year price tag of $1 trillion or more for the overhaul, coupled with the prospect of new taxes or fees to offset the cost. And Republicans see elements of the Democratic plans as government intrusion into personal health care decision making.

Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader, said he was unaware of any House Republican inclined to support the Democrats’ proposed legislation.

Democrats don’t need Republicans to pass a health care bill:

In the budget adopted earlier this year, Democrats granted themselves the power to force health care legislation through the Senate on a simple majority vote. But many lawmakers are reluctant to do so both because of the appearance of partisanship as well as the difficulty of enacting such complex legislation under fast-track rules.

Republicans have studied how to navigate the political terrain of health care given strong public support for improvements. In a memorandum to Republican strategists, Ed Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster, urged party leaders to focus on cost concerns.

But they also warned party strategists to take note of the American public’s frustration with the soaring cost of health care. “Concern about rising health care costs outstrips every other economic concern today,” Mr. Gillespie and Mr. Ayres wrote.

Here’s the irony — the bill they are likely to pass, the one with the biggest price tag, is a bailout for the insurance industries. Also the one the Republicans are most likely to get on board with. The one that controls cost the best — single payer — they dismiss as “socialism.”

You’re never going to get a decent healthcare bill by pandering to Republicans, and with 76% of Americans in favor of a public option, you’re not going to please them and please the public at the same time. Most likely, pleasing Republicans will just get used as an excuse to do what Kay Hagan wants, which is give the insurance industry everything it wants.

We need a public plan that is:

  • available nationwide
  • on day one
  • and accountable to Congress and the voters

So, let’s stop trying to please the GOP, and start trying to serve the best interests of the public. If the GOP isn’t on board with something that so broadly popular, let’s just admit we can do this with Democrats, and get it done.

About the Author: Jane Founder’s work has appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She has appeared on CNN, MSNBC and PBS and is the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct. She has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight and currently lives in Washington, D.C.

Note: The views expressed in this post are the views of the author and not necessarily those of Today’s Workplace or Workplace Fairness.

This article originally appread in Campaign Silo on June 27, 2009. Re-printed with permission from the author.

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.