Neuron Culture

This report on Olympia Snowe’s position suggests he might (if he doesn’t get too many Democratic defectors). Snowe’s importance to Obama’s agenda was made clear in her support of the stimulus package — she was one of 3 GOP senators whose support allowed the bill to go through. It appears she supports substantive action on health-care reform as well.

Via Ezra Klein:

Last Friday, an alert reader linked Steve Benen to this The Bangor Daily News writeup of Olympia Snowe’s health care listening session. This quote, in particular, caught his eye:

“We have a totally dysfunctional system now,” she said. While like most Republicans she would prefer to see the private sector collaborate on an effective change, a government-run health care system may be the only way to get the job done, she said.

Snowe’s position is a bit of an odd one: She holds that we may require a single-payer system but probably should have a public insurance option. The next step, she says, is to fix the market. And Snowe argues that it’s not clear that you can do that with a public insurance option. She’s raised the possibility that the public plan is actually too easy on private insurers. It’s a government plan, she says, and every lobby and advocacy group will exert pressure for it to cover every ill, ailment, and treatment. As such, the plan will quickly prove a better deal for the sick than the well, and it will end up being the equivalent of a “bad bank” for health risks. The private insurance market will simply skim off the healthy. In other words, the public plan wouldn’t compete with the private market so much as subtly subsidize it.

Read more at Klein’s post

Comments

  1. #1 JN
    April 13, 2009

    It’s more than a little disappointing that Obama, with a mandate for change, is avoiding real solutions in favor of requiring Americans to purchase insurance from for-profit companies.

    There is public support for a single-payer plan, such as an expansion of Medicare.

    I’m sure I’m not the only one who knocked on doors and phone banked for the guy who is saddened by his lack of courage on this issue.

  2. #2 David Dobbs
    April 13, 2009

    JN,

    I share your suspicion that others share your disappointment Obama is not coming out for a single-payer plan. But like some others, I suspect he may be taking the longer path to that or something functionally like it, if indeed he establishes a public plan that will be a sort of optional Medicare (with cost-control structures pursued simultaneously). If he establishes that sort of system, and it indeed works, it could draw enough people that it would increasingly be the dominant form of coverage. Meanwhile, the need for it to be better than private plans to draw people might serve to assure its quality.

    Do this right, and it becomes a sort of backdoor or long-road path to single-payer or something functionally like it.

    Might be he doesn’t go that route, but there are plenty of indicators he might.