Sep 012011

Many of us were highly disappointed when Joe Lieberman (DINO-CT) and Ben Nelson (DINO-NE) goose stepped with the Republicans and prevented the inclusion of a public option in the ACA.  However, the public option may not be completely DOA, because California may institute one in that state, and with a working demonstration model, Republicans will be able to get away with far fewer lies.

1PublicOptionAt the end of the battle over health care reform, progressives despaired because the final legislation didn’t include a government-run health care plan, known as a public option. But the law provided an opening for states to create their own public-option plans. And consumer advocates in California—with the backing of the godfather of the public option—are now trying to exploit that provision and kicking off a campaign for a public option in the Golden State. Not surprisingly, the insurance industry there has other ideas.

Consumer Watchdog, a California-based consumer advocacy group, is spearheading a ballot initiative that would create a public option for the state. By introducing a public competitor to the health insurance marketplace, the group argues, private insurance companies would have to lower their own rates. The plan would also roll back insurance rates by 20 percent and exact tougher oversight of premiums. The goal: to get the initiative approved by the state attorney general’s office and ready for a vote by the November 2012 election.

Jacob Hacker, the Yale professor who is credited with the idea for the federal public option, says a state-run version could do a lot of good too. "[A] self-insured state plan would have relatively low administrative costs; second, it would not need to earn a profit; third, it could focus on improvements in value that are only possible with a large and relatively stable insured population," Hacker wrote in an email to Mother Jones. Connecticut’s SustiNet program, a public-option plan built on existing insurance pools for state and municipal workers, is a good example of how such a plan might work, Hacker says… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Mother Jones>

Perhaps if voters get to see how well a single payer system works, in comparison to Insurance companies that focus on profit, not care, it could lead to single-payer health care n


  18 Responses to “A Public Option for California?”

  1. All life is profit and if you die after you pay your premium then…well they just get to bury their mistakes. I know one person in California who has early onset Alzheimer’s right now, not only is his spouse unable to get him the care he needs in a facility he needs to be in the medical decisions are still being made by the administrators of for profit hospitals and not Drs. So just about any change would be good, maybe the soylent green solution is next on the table eh? That would be one public option the right could embrace.

  2. I’ve often thought that “soylent green” was already part of their agenda.

  3. Let’s start a party for cynics! It’s a bit late in the game, but I do hope that CA’s experiment works, however CA is in such bad economic shape – beware!

  4. There is always hope!!

  5. If I am not mistaken, this is how the public option got started in Canada…one province at a time. Go CA!

  6. San Francisco already has a public health plan which all the people are required to pay into or apply for vouchers. I haven’t heard much in the way of complaints about it yet so I’m guessing people are pleased. I’d like to see all states have that option.

  7. To Jack Smith

    Although I agree with most of what you said, people can read your screed at dozens of other sites. This is not a place to hang paper. Were you someone who participates here, even occasionally, I would have approved it.

  8. Well, here I sit IN Calif. and, I didn’t even know this was afoot. Good for us! Actually, I think this has a fair chance of being successful here — private insurance companies are more hated than the IRS, and that really takes some effort. Also, the state has a large population of low- and middle-income citizens who are either straining under the constant premium increases, or don’t have coverage at all.

    Tom, you might find this interesting in light of Obama’s inability to get ANY cooperation from the Republicans. Prior to Jerry Brown being elected Gov. in 2010, CA was in a constant state of gridlock because our constitution required a 2/3 majority vote of legislators in order to pass a budget. As you know, the Rep’s. are definitely in the minority here, but they had enough votes to screw up the works for decades. So, when Brown took office in January, 2011, he like Obama jumped through hoops backwards trying to get the Rep’s to agree on measures to pass a state budget. Answer – flat out, NO.

    So, we also amended our state constitution to allow a budget bill to be passed by a simple majority of legislators. So, Brown decided what he wished to do, got the Dem’s to approve it, and it passed. The Rep’s are still fuming — tough luck. They now know for a fact how inconsequential they are to state politics — hope this drives more Rep’s to states like Texas, Alabama, and Florida.

    • Thanks Ann. A federal constitutional amendment would be a long hard process, but on the first day of any new term the senate can change the rules with a simple majority. Reid caved last January when Republicans promised to play nice. That lasted a week.

  9. Tommy Douglas is considered the father of Canadian medicare. His vision was that no person should be denied medical coverage. In BC, I pay $60.50 per month for my coverage and that means I can go to the doctor as many times as I need to or to the hospital emergency without extra costs being added on. There is talk about adding a user fee but at this point it is all talk. Our system is not perfect by a long shot and there are those trying to create a 2 tiered system that would see some people queue jumping through private for profit practices. This is mostly a reaction to the wait times for certain proceedures like hip replacement surgery. In addition, we have in BC what is called Fair Pharmacare. It is coverage for prescription drugs and the level of assistance is income based. First of all though, your extended private healthcare plan, if you have one, must pay it’s share. Like medical coverage, it isn’t perfect as there are a lot of drugs not covered at all. I can tell you though that without this I would be hooped since I am unemployed right now. I would not be able to afford the drugs I need daily. And you’re right, each province came on board at different times, and each province has slightly different ‘bells and whistles’, but the idea is the same as governed by the Canada Healthcare Act.
    I hope the US can come up with a plan that works for its most vulnerable citizens. I’ve heard stories that some diabetics cannot afford the medications they require, and that other try to get their prescriptions filled in Canada due to some lower prices. I’ve heard stories that people have been turned away from doctors and hospitals because they cannot pay. To the degree that a country cares for its most vulnerable citizens, is a measure of the compassion it has. I hope that the ‘trial’ for a public option in California goes well. Conneticut has its SustiNet programme. The trick is to find the right balance for your nation.

    • Lynn, I was hoping you would weigh in on this with some authoritative input on the Canadian system. Thank you. Before I won my SSDI claim, a process that took over three years, I frequently went without my medications, had to tell my doctor I would not go to the doctor, and even had to pull my own teeth. Now I have medicare. Even that costs more than Canada.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.