I had a chance to watch the President take questions at town hall meetings this weekend. He sought out opposing views, and handled them brilliantly, responding to them rather than giving empty answers. He also didn’t talk down to the audience. The pity is that the take home message in the news today is that he may abandon his push for a “public option”. This would be a grave mistake.
This President is no dummy. He gets this issue. When a citizen asked how private insurers can possibly compete with a government plan, he responded in great detail, explaining how changes need to be phased in, how a public plan cannot simply have the backing of the Fed but must borrow on equal terms with private insurers, how we cannot expect the privates to include pre-existing conditions without increasing their rolls of healthy patients—this guy has thought things through.
I’m not saying there are no disadvantages or potential problems with health care reform. There’s lots that can go wrong. But we’ve already sacrificed our best possible option, single payer health care. Our military families and seniors can take advantage of this, but the rest of us are out of luck. What the hell scares people so much about “public options” and single payer systems?
The horror stories from other countries have been debunked—there are well-recognized problems with single payer systems that are not insurmountable, and are probably preferable to our current set of problems. The argument that “government just fucks up everything it touches” rings rather hollow to anyone who has Medicare.
I’d like to know what—specifically—people fear about a public option or about a single payer system. So far all I’ve heard is rhetoric, canards, and content-free talking points. So what’s the deal? What do we have to fear that no one else in the world seems to fear? What is unique about America that having a single payer system would be the end of our way of life?