The Public Option And The Opt Out (UPDATED x2)

Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid revealed that the Democratic health care reform plan will contain the public option, but will also let states opt out of it if they so choose.

There’s a catch, though–states won’t be able to opt out of the public option until 2014, meaning that every state will at least have to try it before they can eliminate it.

I have to admit, that’s an extremely clever way to structure the opt out. Let’s be honest, a lot of states (particularly red states) are far more likely eliminate the public option for political reasons (read: opposition to Obama) than because it isn’t working.

But it’s incredibly difficult to take away services that people have already begun to enjoy, meaning that those who spearhead efforts to opt out will have to answer to the uninsured/underinsured Americans whose health care they will be taking away.

So yes, Reid’s plan allows states to opt out. But it also prevents politicians from inoculating themselves from the political consequences of opting out, which is exactly how things should be–politicians should be held accountable for their actions.

And anyone who tries to hold onto our current health care system–where 45,000 Americans die each year due to a lack of adequate health care–should have to pay a political price, in my opinion.

Harry Reid is forcing the Republicans to put their money where their mouth is, and that is exactly the kind of hardball tactics Democrats should be implementing on important, life-or-death issues such as health care.

UPDATE: Senator Joe Lieberman is now saying he will vote to uphold the GOP’s filibuster of health care reform.

Remember 2006, when we Democrats got the chance to finally kick Lieberman out of office? And remember how Lieberman’s defenders told us we should re-elect him because “he’s with us on every issue except the war”?

I guess that didn’t pan out, huh?

UPDATE II: Surprise surprise–out of all the Senators up for re-election in 2006, Lieberman was the 2nd-largest beneficiary of insurance industry campaign contributions.

Again, Lieberman defenders: aren’t you glad you fought so hard to keep this man in Congress?