Friday, August 21, 2009

What Part of “Optional” Don’t You Understand?

One of the more disconcerting myths out there about the proposed healthcare reforms is that people would be forced to buy “government-run” healthcare insurance.

Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), the Blue Dog point-man on health care, said yesterday he would not vote for a plan that would “force government-run healthcare on anyone. Period.” But he added that the House contained a public plan that is “strictly … an option.”

As Steve Benen points out, that the word “option” is the clue that no one would be forced into buying it. When something is optional, it means you don’t have to take it.

But does anyone really want a choice in the matter?

More than three out of every four Americans feel it is important to have a “choice” between a government-run health care insurance option and private coverage, according to a public opinion poll released on Thursday.

A new study by SurveyUSA puts support for a public option at a robust 77 percent, one percentage point higher than where it stood in June.

Yes, but then, the argument goes, the public option might work too well:

“I have a problem with this government option plan,” [Democrat Rick] Boucher said. “I’m troubled that the government option plan could become very popular and if it became sufficiently popular it could begin to crowd out the other” private insurance companies.

Yeah, that would be terrible.