A Public Option is Good Government

Published on Huffington Posts, by Rep. Keith Ellison, Sept. 18, 2009.

The current attack on the public option as “government run” health care is a completely wrong-headed argument. First off, let’s remember that government in a democracy is a good thing. Besides, with a public option, government does not “run” health care – government makes sure that everyone gets health care. Being against the public option is like wanting government out of Medicare.

Let’s be clear, our opponents have fought for decades to protect corporate health care interests. Their attack on the public option as “government run” health care is designed to distort the true meaning of reform and scare people. The public option is not government run health care; rather it is the only way to provide affordable health care that cannot be taken away …  

… Now I believe in a healthy, mutually beneficial balance – a mixed economy with private and public participation. But balance is not what those who decry the public option seek in the health care debate. They want the status quo; and in the case of some insurance companies that means near monopoly of a market in some states. You, the consumer, lose in that situation with no competition, no accountability, and no recourse when premiums skyrocket.

In fact, those who favor the public option, and those who oppose it, do so for the same reason: the public option will match up favorably against private market programs. Proponents of the public option say this is good; opponents actually deplore real competition, and enjoy monopoly pricing.

There is no legitimate policy argument against the public option. The opposition is political – it’s about power: public power – meaning your power – versus the power of those few bonus-bothered executives and their Republican allies.

So when you hear the outcry of a government takeover of our health care – know it is a smokescreen for the protection of the pocketbooks of those in industry; those who fear real competition, effectiveness – and your voice. It is the outcry of those private insurers who have brought us to where we are today – without competition and accountability. (full text).

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