Say what you will about the Republicans, but they sure as hell know how to stay on message, irrespective of whether that message is quasi-rational or bordering on the maniacally insane. You see, West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller had a proposal this week that would've offered a fiscally responsible public option to compete with health insurance companies, which would inevitably temper their current stranglehold on the health care system.
Mr. Rockefeller said the Congressional Budget Office had estimated that a government insurance plan could slice $50 billion from the cost of Mr. Baucus's bill, originally put at $774 billion over 10 years......"The public plan will be optional, "Mr. Rockefeller insisted. "It will be voluntary. It will be affordable to people who are now helpless before their insurance companies."
Mr. Schumer said the public option would hold down costs because it would not have to generate profits, answer to shareholders or incur marketing expenses.
Locally dominant insurers often pay providers excessive reimbursement rates to discourage them from participating in rival insurance plans. That dissuades other insurers from entering the market, which, in turn, frees the leading insurer to raise its premiums to cover the inflated reimbursements."The only people who lose in that," Nichols says dryly, "are the patients."
But Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the committee, said a government insurance plan would have inherent advantages over private insurers. "Government is not a fair competitor," Mr. Grassley said. "It's a predator." He predicted that "a government plan will ultimately force private insurers out of business," reducing choices for consumers.
Getting movement on a public option - or any other meaningful reform - will now require the support of one of the three Republicans in the group: Grassley (who has received $2,034,000 from the health sector), [Olympia] Snowe ($756,000) or [Mike] Enzi ($627,000).This is what the prospects for real health care reform come down to - whether one of three Republicans from tiny states with no major urban populations decides, out of the goodness of his or her cash-fattened heart, to forsake forever any contributions from the health-insurance industry.