President Obama on the Public Option

I hope Harry Reid and Max Baucus saw this, from President Obama’s AARP townhall today:

And the other thing that we do want to do — now, this is controversial, and I understand some people are worried about this — we do think that it makes sense to have a public option alongside the private option.  So you could still choose a private insurer, but we’d also have a public plan that you could choose from that would be non-for-profit, wouldn’t have, hopefully, some of the same high administrative costs, and would be potentially more responsive to your needs at a lower cost.  I think that helps keep the insurance companies honest because now they have somebody to compete with.

And I have to say, the reason this has been controversial is a lot of people have heard this phrase “socialized medicine” and they say, we don’t want government-run health care; we don’t want a Canadian-style plan.  Nobody is talking about that.  We’re saying, let’s give you a choice.  You can choose the private marketplace, or this other approach.

And I got a letter the other day from a woman; she said, I don’t want government-run health care, I don’t want socialized medicine, and don’t touch my Medicare.  (Laughter.)  And I wanted to say, well, I mean, that’s what Medicare is, is it’s a government-run health care plan that people are very happy with. But I think that we’ve been so accustomed to hearing those phrases that sometimes we can’t sort out the myth from the reality.

Somehow in the plane on which the Senate exists, the one in the epicenter of The Village, leadership has missed the fact that the Democrats in the House, the President, but most importantly all the people living out here outside of The Village want a choice in our healthcare, and that means a public option.


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