Friday, October 9, 2009

Putting the “Option” in “Public Option”

The idea of making the public option in healthcare optional on a state-by-state basis — letting the states decide if they wish to participate in the federal program — is getting some serious attention on Capitol Hill.

The idea is that in states where the legislature and the governor are sufficiently red (or under the influence of the insurance lobby), they could vote to not participate in the public option, thereby eliminating their boogedy-boogedy talking point about socialized medicine being forced on them. However, they would be under pressure by their constituents who will see that if the public option works in other states, they will demand it at home… or move to the states where they can get it. That would put the pressure on the anti-option states to go for it after all. Not unlike what happened last spring with the stimulus package, you’d get a lot of tough talk from people like Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) who vowed to never take a dime of ARRA funds and ended up handing it out like it was their own idea. Of course no Republican in the House or Senate will go for it, but they were never serious about any healthcare reform anyway.

I’m trying hard to see if there’s a downside to it. While it’s not everything that the hard-core public option folks like Ed Schultz want, it might just be the way to make it work.