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Senate Drops Public Option: Is Real Health Care Reform Dead?

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A bipartisan agreement or "compromise" was agreed upon by "six bipartisan members" of the Senate Finance Committee on Monday which did not include any plan or language for the creation of a "public option." The public option has been the hope for millions of Americans especially progressives who have chosen to support this "public option" instead of fighting for single-payer health care (a Medicare for All system).

From the AP report that the Senate bill for health care does not include a public option:

"After weeks of secretive talks, a bipartisan group in the Senate edged closer Monday to a health care compromise that omits a requirement for businesses to offer coverage to their workers and lacks a government insurance option that President Barack Obama favors, according to numerous officials.

Like bills drafted by Democrats, the proposal under discussion by six members on the Senate Finance Committee would bar insurance companies from denying coverage to any applicant. Nor could insurers charge higher premiums on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions.

But it jettisons other core Democratic provisions in a reach for bipartisanship on an issue that has so far produced little."

The business friendly U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which normally allies itself with Republicans, came out in support of the reform effort yesterday. Presumably, they knew the part of the reform that involved a "government takeover of health care," the "public option" had been axed by the Senate Finance Committee.

In the evening on Monday, House Democrats had a closed door health care meeting from 4 to 9. The House bill is more progressive in its reform and, of course, the meeting was probably on the agenda so that Democrats could discuss what they would be willing to compromise or give up on now that the public option was going to be dropped from the Senate version of health care reform.

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At this point, there exist several glaring problems. Much of it has to do with the weakness of the debate on health care reform, the reality that Republicans and right wing elements of the Democratic Party known as Blue Dogs have controlled much of the debate, and reports that show pharmaceutical companies and health insurance lobbyists have been steering the discussion of health care reform since Day One.

Weeks ago, Barack Obama asked health care advocates to "ratchet back their pressure for a public option." This demand was made as "foot-dragging Democrats," conservative right wing Democrats were being targeted for refusing to support a "public option."

Obama has clung to the notion reform must help create "a marketplace that provides choice and competition," language directed to private insurance companies and Republicans. It's the same set of buzzwords and talk that Clinton used in 1993.

In fact, Ruth Conniff of The Progressive thinks Obama's talk on health care has been "eerily similar" to Clinton's talk when he was pushing for "reform."

The red flag should have gone up on Wednesday when those who watched Obama's press conference heard Obama begin to argue for "health insurance reform" instead of "health care reform."

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As Glen Ford, Executive Editor of the Black Agenda Report, points out on The Real News, there is a distinct difference. One is "generalized quality care for as many people as possible in the national interest" and the "other is a push and pull between different profit-making enterprises to see how much profit can be garnered through this legislation."

Ford suggests why this is such a mess and puts forth the idea that Obama's campaign for health care reform is all about "symbolism" and about the "appearance of getting a difficult job done."

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for OpEdNews.com

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