Monday, June 8, 2009

Are 119 million American wrong about health care?

via, by Robert Parry

As the health insurance industry and its defenders in Congress lay out their case against permitting a public option in a reform bill, perhaps their most curious argument is that some 119 million Americans are ready to dump their private plans and jump to something more like Medicare – and that’s why the choice can’t be permitted.

In other words, the industry and its backers are acknowledging that more than one-third of the American people are so dissatisfied with their private health insurance that they trust the U.S. government to give them a fairer shake on health care. The industry says its allies in Congress must prevent that.

The peculiar argument that 119 million Americans must be denied the public option that they prefer has been made most notably by Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, which is one of two panels that has jurisdiction over the health insurance bill.

“As many as 119 million Americans would shift from private coverage to the government plan,” Grassley wrote in a column for That migration, Grassley said, would “put America on the path toward a completely government-run health care system. … Eventually, the government plan would overtake the entire market.”

Grassley’s logic is that so many Americans would prefer a government-run plan that the private health insurance industry would collapse or become a shadow of its current self. That, in turn, would lead even more Americans entering the government plan, making private insurance even less viable.

Rarely has an argument more dramatically highlighted the philosophical question of whether in a democracy, the government should represent the people’s interests or an industry’s.

But Grassley said he is simply upholding “the promise that if you like the coverage you have, you can keep it. … That’s why I’m concerned about a government-run plan that forces people out of private insurance.”

The counter-argument, of course, might be that if the health insurance industry hadn’t dissatisfied so many customers – indeed forcing many sick people into bankruptcy because of excessive fees, denial of coverage and gaps in permitted medical treatments – there wouldn’t be so many Americans eager for a public option.

So, now to protect the health insurance industry, Congress must stop 119 million Americans from leaping into the arms of a government plan.

Read the rest.

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