Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has announced that the Senate will consider a health care reform act with a public option, but allowing an “opt out” by states.
The politics of the Senate makes it difficult to accomplish a public option, since 60 senators are needed to avoid a filibuster, unless “reconciliation” is invoked, requiring only 50 or 51 senators, but provoking a lot more anger and partisanship.
Having said that, it is disappointing that the states will be allowed to “opt out”, as that will provide, inevitably, fewer choices on health care coverage in many states, particularly those that are poorer and more backward in social terms–particularly the South and Great Plains and some Mountain States. These are precisely the areas of less competition among health care plans, and should require the stiff competition of a public option.
The likelihood is that the Northeast and New England, the Upper Midwest, the Pacific Northwest, and California will participate, which will promote more inequities and unfairness and division within this nation, which already has too many elements of the above.
It will mean that where one lives will decide a person’s opportunity for a fair and reasonable cost health care system, and in that sense, this decision of the Senate Majority Leader is disappointing. It is really catering to conservative and anti government interests, the precisely wrong message to send.
Negotiations with the House of Representatives and Speaker Nancy Pelosi may yet change this situation, and it is hoped such an eventuality occurs.