The public option is almost assuredly not going to be in the final package for health reform, and that’s a good thing because it’s existence imperils passage of this historic and incredibly progressive legislation. It represents a huge – and long overdue – leftwards shift for American social policy, despite the public option’s absence. And note again that the PO would not have been available to everyone anyway, so how progressive was it really?
The ultimate progressive health reform would have been single-payer insurance, but that was taken off the table (with good reason) by President Obama. However, since Medicare is already a single-payer system, it’s possible to leverage that existing system for creating a “single payer option” which would not be as disruptive as true single payer, would provide a more genuinely public option than the public option, and possibly even help reduce structural deficits. That would simply be to allow people under age 65 to “buy-in” to Medicare.
Think about this. Medicare caters to people over 65, whose medical expenses cost more than young peoples’. By allowing yong people to buy in, who presumably will have less demands on payouts due to better health, then the financial situation of Medicare actually improves.
And legislation to achieve Medicare buy-in is quite a simple change, which can exist separate from the comprehensive (and still necessary) reform in the broader health care package. In fact it’s already been introduced to the House by Rep Alan Grayson – clocking in at only 4 pages.