Thursday, December 10, 2009

RIP, Public Option

Along with my hopes for change.

The public health insurance option died on Thursday, December 10, 2009, after a months-long struggle with Senate parliamentary procedure. The time of death was recorded as 11:12 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Its death had been rumored numerous times over the past year, but the public option repeatedly and defiantly battled back. The Senate's insistence on 60 votes, combined with President Obama's decision not to intervene on its behalf, eventually proved overwhelming.

The public option leaves behind a Medicare buy-in for people aged 55-64, an expansion of Medicaid, a quasi-public option for those under 300 percent of the poverty line and a collection of national private plans managed by the Office of Personnel Management.

Dr. Pelosi had it in her hands to save. For a moment.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pulled the final plug in a press briefing with reporters Thursday.

She had often said in the past that a health care bill without a public option simply wouldn't have the votes to pass the House. She was asked about that claim Thursday, in relation to the Senate compromise, and pointedly told reporters that any bill could pass as long as it met certain broad goals.

I'll leave it to you to view the dearly departed. I will attend neither the chapel nor the graveside service.

Despite the fact that progressives like Paul Krugman, Anthony Weiner, and Howard Dean are all for these revisions (and despite the fact that I myself will be eligible, in less than four years, for the proposed Medicare buy-in) ... this is simply not healthcare reform I can believe in.

As far as I am concerned, today marks the first day in a quest for a progressive presidential candidate in 2012.

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