First, the Democrats in Congress wanted 'Single Payer' – a totally government-run health care bureaucracy under whose thumb it would be illegal for an individual to contract directly for the services of a doctor, a laboratory, a hospital, or to purchase health insurance from a private company. Last summer when the outright nationalization of the American medical system didn't fly, the Reid/Pelosi/Obama/Immanuel axis decided to try to sneak it in by stealth instead. To do that, they came up with a new construct they called 'The Public Option' – a system whereby the government would 'compete' with private insurance companies to 'lower the cost of insurance'.
No matter that any such 'competition' would be rigged from the start. Government 'insurance' could be sold for a fraction of the cost of private insurance because it wouldn't have to meet the mandates and the capital and underwriting requirements that private companies must meet. Within a few short years (if not months), a 'public option' would undercut the private insurance industry and put it out of business leaving only the 'government option' (which is their ultimate goal anyway).
What does it matter if the true believers have to wait a few more years to achieve full socialized medicine in America? Socialists are nothing if not patient. They knew back in 1965 that if they could just get their foot in the door with Medicare, it would eventually lead to a total government takeover (See: Past is Prologue – Medicare, 1965). So it has become with this latest health care bill. When the true believers couldn't achieve the total takeover of 1/6th of the American economy all at once, they 'compromised' by putting in place a system that is guaranteed to achieve that same goal in a few more years. This explains why one 'deal-breaker' after another has been ignored and 'lines-in-the-sand' that have been drawn over one issue after another keep getting crossed. Like the sleight-of-hand artists that they are, the people pushing this bill know that bickering over side issues like 'exchanges', 'single payer', 'public options', abortions, 'death panels', etc. will serve quite nicely to distract the attention of the America public from the real issues.
Let’s recap: Sounding for all the world like Gandalf planting his staff on the bridge in The Lord of the Rings, last September Nancy Pelosi announced firmly that "any health care bill without a strong public option will not pass the House!" In the middle of the night on November 7th, she made good on her promise. She passed the "Affordable Health Care for America Act" – H.R.3962 – which creates a 'health insurance exchange' with a 'public option':
SEC. 301. ESTABLISHMENT OF HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGE; OUTLINE OF DUTIES; DEFINITIONS.
- (a) Establishment- There is established within the Health Choices Administration and under the direction of the Commissioner a Health Insurance Exchange in order to facilitate access of individuals and employers, through a transparent process, to a variety of choices of affordable, quality health insurance coverage, including a public health insurance option.
However, over the past few months we've all been witness to the fact that the word 'unacceptable' is entirely situational. How long before these 57 come out and say, "Well, we really didn’t mean it." We’ve seen one group after another abandon their 'demands' and 'firm beliefs' in order to get this bill passed: The Catholics who wouldn't vote for a bill that used taxpayer funds for abortion; The 'public option' hard-liners who promised not to vote for a bill without one; The 'blue-dog' Democrats who promised not to vote for a bill that raised the deficit; Those who promised not to raid Medicare to pay for 'universal health care'; Those who demanded that everyone be covered; Those who wouldn't support a bill that covered illegal aliens ... and so on.
So what's going to happen when the House meets tomorrow? I believe that first, Ayatollah Pelosi will be button-holing those 57 Congressmen and telling them something like, "Let's not waste this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity over mere semantics. What does it matter if the words 'public option' are not in the final bill if it results in what you all favor: government-run health care." That, and of course she'll be threatening to punish any Congressmen who cross her by cutting their staff, their campaign funds, and taking away their committee assignments ...
John Hinderacker at Powerline sums up the situation nicely in No Public Option:
- So what is shaping up behind closed doors is classic National Socialist legislation. The government will not overtly take over the insurance industry ("seizing the means of production", in Marxist terms). Rather, ostensibly private institutions will be left in place, at least for the time being. But those "private" institutions -- the health insurance companies -- will be subjected to top-down regulation that turns them into agents of state power. No meaningful competition will be permitted. The federal government will run health care, but will do so behind a facade of private enterprise. Mussolini would be proud of Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Reid.
Presumably this arrangement is only temporary. As we have noted before, the Left doesn't really need a public option. President Obama has said that under his proposal, private insurance companies would be driven out of business over a period of ten to twenty years. At that point, there will be no such thing as private medicine, and the federal government will be able to come out of the closet. It will be illegal for you or members of your family to obtain medical treatment, except as permitted and controlled by the government.
Will America then be a free country? That's debatable, but I would say, No.