A Public Option is Good Government!

Nov 18, 2009 | Updated May 25, 2011

The current attack on the public option as "government run" health care is a completely wrong-headed argument. First off, let's remember that government in a democracy is a good thing. Besides, with a public option, government does not "run" health care--government makes sure that everyone gets health care. Being against the public option is like wanting government out of Medicare.

Let's be clear, our opponents have fought for decades to protect corporate health care interests. Their attack on the public option as "government run" health care is designed to distort the true meaning of reform and scare people. The public option is not government run health care; rather it is the only way to provide affordable health care that cannot be taken away.

We're debating health care reform now because well over 60% of the American public believes the current system is broken. The average American family pays an extra $1,100 per year in premiums to support a system that leaves forty six million Americans uninsured.

With the status quo in such a state it should be easy to enact reform, right? Wrong. The opposition has mobilized against dismantling their gravy train - spending over a million dollars a day to defeat meaningful health care reform. Since they don't have the facts on their side, they do it with scare tactics like death panels, tax hikes, and more debt. What they can't accomplish by scaring you, they confuse the facts.

Opponents of reform are currently focused on gutting the bill of a key component - the public option. The objection to a "public option" in the health care debate is that it would be government-run. According to critics, "government run" means poorly, intrusively and wastefully administered. This analysis comes to you from the business titans that brought you the privately run goose eggs like Enron, WorldCom, Bear Stearns, and Lehman Brothers. All privately run disasters of major proportions. It takes real chutzpah to criticize government performance with examples like those in your own backyard.

Now I believe in a healthy, mutually beneficial balance - a mixed economy with private and public participation. But balance is not what those who decry the public option seek in the health care debate. They want the status quo; and in the case of some insurance companies that means near monopoly of a market in some states. You, the consumer, lose in that situation with no competition, no accountability, and no recourse when premiums skyrocket.

In fact, those who favor the public option, and those who oppose it, do so for the same reason: the public option will match up favorably against private market programs. Proponents of the public option say this is good; opponents actually deplore real competition, and enjoy monopoly pricing.

There is no legitimate policy argument against the public option. The opposition is political - it's about power: public power - meaning your power - versus the power of those few bonus-bothered executives and their Republican allies.

So when you hear the outcry of a government takeover of our health care - know it is a smokescreen for the protection of the pocketbooks of those in industry; those who fear real competition, effectiveness - and your voice. It is the outcry of those private insurers who have brought us to where we are today - without competition and accountability.