In The Washington Post
Three particular items of interest in Yesterday’s Washington Post:
In its editorial yesterday, the Post, which has previously expressed skepticism about the proposed government health plan option, is now saying that the idea needs to be jettisoned before it drags down the entire health reform effort. As talk is heating up that Senate Democrats may try to push health reform legislation through the budget reconciliation process, which would require only 51 votes for passage, the Post accurately makes the point that reconciliation provisions could result in important aspects of reform, such as creating new health insurance exchanges, being lost. And, as the editorial states clearly, “there’s no way to amass 60 votes with a public option in the bill.”
On the op-ed page, David Ignatius shares a lengthy conversation he had with Mayo Clinic CEO and former Healthcare Leadership Council chairman Denis Cortese. Dr. Cortese makes the point that, rather than create a new federal health bureaucracy, it would make far more sense to use the existing government programs like Medicare and Medicaid as laboratories for reform. To quote the op-ed:
“Cortese argues that reformers should stop obsessing over whether there’s a “public option” in the plan. Yes, we need a yardstick for measuring costs and effectiveness. But we should start by fixing the public options we already have…..Cortese argues that the White House should mandate that, within three years, these programs will shift from the current fee-for-service approach to a system that pays for value – that is, for delivering low-cost, high-quality care.”
For an alternate point of view, there’s a lengthy feature on former Vermont governor Howard Dean, who is barnstorming the country to make the point that a government option must be a “non-negotiable” component of health reform. In the story, Dean told the reporter, talking about members of Congress “This is about whether you’re going to vote for the people who donated to your campaigns – the health insurance industry – or you’re going to vote for the people who pay your salary.”
Given the fact that, according to the most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, a plurality of Americans oppose the government option, one can’t help but wonder who are the “people” to whom Governor Dean is referring?