Political compromise: a Public Option “option”

There’s a political compromise brewing in the US Senate over several conservative Democratic senators’ opposition to the a public option, a possible “option” clause that would allow states like Nebraska or North Dakota to opt out of the national public option… I mean, if they really want to. And as always, McJoan at Daily Kos gets to the heart of the issue:

In terms of national policy, is this necessarily a good idea? Probably not, when you’ve got crazy secessionists like Rick Perry in governorships. The thought of all those Texans not having access to care is a problem. On the other hand, how many governors ended up sending back those stimulus checks? How many governors, state legislators, or even Senators of Nebraska or North Dakota or Arkansas are going to be willing to stand in front of their constituents and tell them that the rest of the country has access to a government option for their healthcare. Have at it, Ben Nelson.

Yeah, probably not a great policy idea, but if that’s what it takes to get a real public option passed for the rest of us, I agree with Joan:  have at it, Ben Nelson.


  1. 1

    Zotz spews:

    I actually think this is a good idea (worth entertaining) for a few reasons:

    1. What you said (i.e., the govs haven’t been returning checks, they wouldn’t long resist access to a public option and stay in office).

    2. I think most of issue will be in the southern states, the last bastion of the right. Red to blue MF’ers!

    3. We are likely to get a much, much stronger public option because the BDogs, Senate conservadems et al will be able to vote with the Ds and have it both ways.

  2. 2

    nolaguy spews:

    I wonder about the details of the “opt out” option.

    If a state decided to opt out of the federal public option, would the state’s citizens be exempt from the taxes/penalties of the health reform bill?

    If so, I could envision businesses potentially relocating to states that opt out. (can you see the new state tourist campaigns? “Move to Texas. We’re a fed healtcare-free state!”) Large companies move their business to a state without the option, but near the border of state that does. Win-win for the business and the employees.

    If states aren’t exempt from the taxes/penalties, then what’s the point of the “opt out” option? As the OP states, no state would choose to opt out, and therefore this “option” is a big nothing-burger…

  3. 3

    Alki Postings spews:

    GO FOR IT! Let these people put their money where their mouths are for once. There are a few survivalist types who really DON’T use many government services, but 95% of these folks always take the money for their bridges to no-where or endless list of local “important” projects. And these folks all use our national defense (1/3 of our budget) and don’t turn down social security or Medicare (most of the rest of the budget).

    Go for it!

  4. 4

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    Like I said before, you won’t get a public option until you Neo-socialsts elect the guys and gals who’ll make the public option the only option. That means a total take-over of the health care system by the government.

    That’s what you need to do. Otherwise, the system we have now will continue. Piss or get off the pot, boys and girls!

  5. 5

    The Right Wing spews:

    wow really great idea, split poor people in the south from the national democratic party, throw them under the bus.

    yeah right who need solidarity or unity or equality or all that shit?

    maybe after we do this we can have different OSHA laws for down South, different antirust laws, how about a state by state opt out for environmental laws, too? That way we can get slightly more left leaning environmental laws in “our” states which is totally worth throwing overboard principles like unity, union, beinga “nation” thing.

    When fighting wolves, it always works to take some of the people in your sled and throw them overboard….it lightens the load then most of us get away! The wolves have to stop and eat their meal, you see.

    Dividing your own side as a way for part of us to move forward, brilliant! I came, I divided my forces, then I conquered. Partway. Brilliant. totally makes those folks you threw to the wolves love you and feel all devoted, too. What a “team” and “Trust” builder!

    Go ahead, lefties, we will be glad to deal with the poor folks in our states without your damn interference, after you ahve abandoned them!

  6. 6

    SJ Troll patrol spews:


    If so, I could envision businesses potentially relocating to states that opt out. (can you see the new state tourist campaigns? “Move to Texas. We’re a fed healtcare-free state!”)

    Actually, I think the opposite effect would occur. Most businesses regard healthcare as an oneorus TAX now.

  7. 7


    The insurance oligopolies want no public option anywhere.

    Their bought and paid for tools in the Congress will do their bidding.

    I hate the idea of this country divided like that. If there’s going to be a public option it should be for all americans and there’s no escaping the reality that we’re going to have to fight right down to the wire for it.

  8. 8

    nolaguy spews:

    Actually, I think the opposite effect would occur. Most businesses regard healthcare as an oneorus TAX now.

    I thought of that, too. I have to admit I don’t know enough about the burden/advantage of employee subsidized health care by businesses.

    Originally, it appeared that businesses were able to get a huge tax break by providing healthcare to employees. I guess with the rising costs of premiums, those benefits have gone away?

    On the other hand, the new healthcare reform bill has taxes and fees in it for businesses.

    Depending on those fees, it still might be advantageous for a business to move to an opt-out state.

    Since nobody really can articulate the specifics of the bill, this “opt out” option is a good idea, IMO. It forces the bill creators to craft a good bill, and it forces everyon to really read/learn/understand the bill. If they don’t like it, they can opt out (if the fees taxes are not imposed)

    But, I’m guessing the intent of the “opt out” option is more political than anything else.

  9. 9

    slingshot spews:

    “There are a few survivalist types who really DON’T use many government services”

    It’s been my personal experience that these neo-righties use more of everything. Theirs is a brash and unapologetic grab-that-cash-with-both-hands-and-make-a-stash philosophy while simultaneously singing to the heavens the praises of their self-made, mannish rugged individualism. They’re selfish, chinsey, stingy, cold-hearted hypocritical, wealth-worshiping liars, the lot of them.

    The opt out senators or representatives would swiftly join the ranks of the fist time unemployed.

  10. 10

    Brenda Helverson spews:

    Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe is far smarter than Senator Blanche Lincoln and would never do something so stupid.

  11. 11

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    A new study finds wide disparities among the states in both coverage and quality of care. For example, a third of Texas residents are uninsured, while only 7% of Massachusetts residents are. And, not surprisingly, the study shows that “many states with the worst quality and cost of health care are represented in Congress by some of the fiercest opponents of Democratic proposals for change.” (Um, in case you’re wondering, those states tend to be the ex-slave states with right-to-work laws and low minimum wages, where they apparently still believe in slavery.)

    Read the article here: http://news.aol.com/article/co.....-by/709338

  12. 12

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @2 “I could envision businesses potentially relocating to states that opt out.”

    They already do that to take advantage of low wage rates. But why would workers want to live in low-wage, no-health-care, states just to work for a cheapskate employer? They’ll be migrating in the opposite direction — to states where the quality of life is better for the working class. So employers who chase the lowest labor costs and taxes may find themselves staring at big, shiny, sparkling, new, empty factory buildings.

  13. 14

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @4 “public option … means a total take-over of the health care system by the government”

    Yeah, it probably does, because the private insurance model is so shitty — all profit, no benefits.

    I mean, c’mon, really, after all the anti-gummint indoctrination that has been pumped into citizens’ heads over the last 40 years, do you wingnuts believe that people would flock to a government-run program if private insurance wasn’t a pile of dog shit?

  14. 16

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @8 “businesses were able to get a huge tax break by providing healthcare to employees. I guess with the rising costs of premiums, those benefits have gone away”

    Employee health benefits are a cost of producing business income, and as such, are deductible from gross revenues when calculating taxable net income.

  15. 18

    Quimface Norquist spews:

    re 4: There are several European countries (I believe Switzerland is one) who have a successful combination of government and private in healthcare insurance.

    It’s doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

    Do some oppositional research on yourself or shut your trap.

  16. 19

    rhp6033 spews:

    Short history lesson: Employee group health insurance coverage began with the unions, with the plans mostly administered by the unions but premiums were paid by the employer under the labor contract. Post WWII, you saw a huge expansion in firms providing paid health insurance diretly to workers. Why? (a) Congress required that the premiums are deductable to the employer as a business expense, but not taxable to the employee as income; (b) Congress also provided that the health care plans had to be non-discriminatory, i.e., essentially all employees, workers as well as management, had to receive essentially the same benefits; (c) the tax rates then were much higher than they were now, making tax-free health insurance benefits a valuable inducement to potential employees, and (d) there was a general labor shortage in the U.S., causing competition among employers for skilled workers.

    Why it doesn’t work now:
    (1) There is no labor shortage. Some of it’s technologically driven (few managers need a secty/typist anymore), a lot of it’s due to outsourcing.

    (2) Companies found a variety of ways to avoid the non-discrimination rules. Among them were having only management as full-time employees (the people doing the work are never assigned enough hours per week to qualify for benefits). Outsourcing also allowed management to keep great insurance plans for management, but in effect have little or no “staff”, only contract workers. Finally, the government hasn’t enforced the non-discrimination provisions since early in the Reagan administration, allowing a two-tier structure to grow in practice (management plans sometimes allow purely cosmetic surgery for employees and their families as a covered benefit, but worker plans effectively provide little or no benefit, at a very high premium and deductable cost to the worker).

    (3) Non-union employees have no input into the insurance plans offered by the employer – they are only a “third-party beneficiary” under the contract between the employer and the health insurer. The employer will always look for ways to cut costs, and the insurance company will always look for ways to limit it’s expenses. The employee loses more each time the contract comes up for renewal. The increasing number of “two-tier” systems removes any potential restrictions on benefit cutbacks.

    Why we need a decent plan: I think we should seperate health insurance from the employer-employee relationship. Companies in countries with a national health care system currently have a competative advantage over U.S. companies that provide insurance to their employees. Is it any wonder why Ford and GM are having so much trouble competing with Toyota?

  17. 20

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    11. Roger Rabbit spews:
    low minimum wages, where they apparently still believe in slavery.)

    The difference between slavery and low minimum wage is no one is forced to work a minimum wage job. Unlike slavery, if someone doesn’t like working a minimum wage job, they are free to get a better job. If they don’t have the job skills or people skills to get a better paying job, then that’s something they have to work on themselves.
    Who forced you to work a minimum wage job?

  18. 21

    Marvin Stamn spews:

  19. 22

    Politically Incorrect spews:


    People will flock to the public option because it’ll be the only thing left after insurance companies abandon the market.

    (PS – I’m not a wingnut.)