While the status of the “public option” is still unclear, it does seem that both parties seem to be more focused on discrediting each others ideas and plans, rather than promoting things good for the American People as a whole. The desire for an acceptable plan to a greater number of people may lower the common denominator to make any reform different, but not substantively better.
The unfortunate reality is that science and technology have advanced beyond the point of being able to pay for it. The Congressional Budget Office report in December 2008 on health care, which contains lots of conflicting data, did point out that by the year 2082 (Yes, 2082), that health care will cross the 50% of Gross Domestic Product line. A laughable statistic, but indicative of the path we are on. It is a reality that some body, either public or private, will have to ration care at an ever increasing level. In that both State and local governments are built to say “Yes” instead of “No”, and we elect legislators based on the amount of “YES” that they bring back to each of us, I prefer that a for-profit system as a better way to control costs. The example of true market-forces health care is cosmetic surgery. In general, procedures available 10 years ago, cost far less today. In a competitive system with multi-carriers, if carrier “A” says No, you can move to carrier “B”. In a public system, you can’t move from the US to France or Canada.
The Public option, as presented in HR3200 does not offer cost control or provide reason or incentive for providers to be more price competitive. It does not lower their costs to provide service. It does not reduce their collection costs from members. The public options main driver of viability is the belief by many, with limited statistical evidence, that the government can operate more cost-effectively than private industry. In addition, the Public Option shifts more people to mandated reimbursement rates below provider costs, forcing those providers to either raise prices to non-Public option members, or to drop from providing service to members with a government plan. Gerald Ford’s WIN campaign in 1974, (Whip Inflation Now) designed to temper 6% inflation, proved that forced government price shifting, and delays of market forces, have devastating counter effects later. (Inflation averaged 10% per year for the next 8 years)
If the goal of health reform is to offer better access to health care AND control costs, the Public Option is the wrong flash point. The real debate should be between a single payer system and a free market system as described in http://bloghealthinsurance.com/2009/08/19/health-care-reform-part-2.aspx