As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Doctors For The Public Option

As we know, the Baucus draft to be released today will not include a public option, making it the only bill out of the five in the Congress not to have one. On this basis Olympia Snowe wants it off the table. On her side are Republicans, a few ConservaDems without the courage to admit their opposition and prefer to say "it doesn't have the votes," insurance companies and teabaggers. On the side of the public option are Tom Harkin, a majority of the House, a majority of the Senate, the President, four committees in the Congress, the wide majority of Americans, states as conservative as Arkansas, and doctors (h/t):

A RWJF survey summarized in the September 14, 2009 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine shows that 62.9 percent of physicians nationwide support proposals to expand health care coverage that include both public and private insurance options—where people under the age of 65 would have the choice of enrolling in a new public health insurance plan (like Medicare) or in private plans. The survey shows that just 27.3 percent of physicians support a new program that does not include a public option and instead provides subsidies for low-income people to purchase private insurance. Only 9.6 percent of doctors nationwide support a system where a Medicare-like public program is created in lieu of any private insurance. A majority of physicians (58%) also support expanding Medicare eligibility to those between the ages of 55 and 64.

In every region of the country, a majority of physicians supported a combination of public and private options, as did physicians who identified themselves as primary care providers, surgeons, or other medical subspecialists. Among those who identified themselves as members of the American Medical Association, 62.2 percent favored both the public and private options.

What's so interesting about this is that the doctors broadly prefer private plans to Medicare on the basis of adequacy of payment, because private plans reimburse them more generously, but they STILL prefer a public option for their patients, because they have a frickin' heart.

By the way, I agree with Chris Bowers on this point:

No matter what happens in the Finance committee, it is essential that there is a vote on health care reform with a robust public option on the floor of the Senate. If Democratic Senators can keep saying that their aren't enough votes to pass a public option, and if they aren't going to include on in their health care "reform" package, then at the very least they should have the decency to tell us which Democratic Senators were actually opposed to the public option.

We are the activists who worked our asses off to give them their majority. If they are going to not deliver on the hopes and dreams we had that led us to do that activism on their behalf, then they better damn well tell us who canceled the delivery. No more of this code of silence crap that is designed to try and play both sides. They have to stand up, in public, and make it clear which side they are on--the American people's, or the private insurance companies. We need a Senate roll call vote.

I believe we'll get that vote, and members of the Senate can pick a side. And Harry Reid can determine, when merging the HELP bill and the Finance bill, if that vote is to put the public option into the bill, or take it out, which adds a different dynamic to the proceedings. We also need to know whether House progressives will live up to their commitments by voting only for bills with the public option in it.

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