The "robust public option" which would have offered a modicum of competition to a monopolistic industry was whittled down from an initial potential enrollment of 129 million Americans to 6 million. An amendment which would have protected the rights of states to pursue single-payer health care was stripped from the bill at the request of the Administration. Looking ahead, we cringe at the prospect of even greater favors for insurance companies.
Here's what Lee Stranahan says in the Huffington Post:
Progressives should be every bit as upset that President Obama lied to us to get his historic health bill. The citizens of this country did not have a seat at the table. Proponents of the Single Payer didn't have a seat at the table. Under the guise of health care reform, we watched as the insurance industry got a bill passed that entrenches and enriches them.I can hardly wait to see what the Senate does with it.
Don't let anyone fool you that this bill is a good start. It's got a poison pill "Public Option" that is designed to fail. As the brilliant RJ Eskow wrote recently about the House bill's public option,
The plan will have low enrollment and little power to negotiate, causing the CBO to state as fact what I've long considered possible: That the public option could become a dumping ground where private plans jettison sicker people, while lacking the efficiencies of scale or negotiating power to get better rates or administer itself more economically.
As a result, says the CBO, a public plan's premiums might be higher than private insurance. While the CBO's word isn't gospel, it's entirely possible that they're underestimating the cost of any "public option" we're likely to see this year. The likeliest political outcome, once the House and Senate bills are combined, is a non-robust "public option" with a state-by-state opt out. The CBO didn't consider the opt-out when it came up with its shocking (to some) estimate.
Even if it passes in its weak form, this Public Option will be the target of the GOP for years and they won't rest until it is dead. As the Public Option kicks into gear, they will find stories of 'rationing' and denial of care they can highlight, true or not. They will use the higher costs as proof of the Public Option's folly. They will grind away at the Public Option relentlessly but they will leave the Individual Mandate alone. If anything, once the Mandate is in place, the Republicans will make sure the insurance industry is 'free to compete' and unrestricted.