Sunday, June 21, 2009

I Never Promised You A Rose Garden

That old song goes well with the current political will to strip the health care change proposals from any mention of that nasty "public option" possibility. How far have we fallen! Wasn't it only a few months ago when a public insurance option seemed a certainty and even a single-payer system could be dreamt about?

Well, all that turns out to be the proverbial rose garden, the one we were not promised. Honest. And this is true, despite the fact that the majority of Americans surveyed in almost all the recent polls do want a public option. The most recent poll results:

Americans overwhelmingly support substantial changes to the health care system and are strongly behind one of the most contentious proposals Congress is considering, a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

The poll found that most Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes so everyone could have health insurance and that they said the government could do a better job of holding down health-care costs than the private sector.

Yet the survey also revealed considerable unease about the impact of heightened government involvement, on both the economy and the quality of the respondents' own medical care. While 85 percent of respondents said the health care system needed to be fundamentally changed or completely rebuilt, 77 percent said they were very or somewhat satisfied with the quality of their own care.

That paradox was skillfully exploited by opponents of the last failed attempt at overhauling the health system, during former President Bill Clinton's first term. Sixteen years later, it underscores the tricky task facing lawmakers and President Obama as they try to address the health system's substantial problems without igniting fears that people could lose what they like.

Nate Silver has a good post on various health care opinion polls. His conclusion is that the majority of people do, indeed, want a government-provided insurance option to be included.

So why are the politicians so veryvery scared of that possibility? Draw your own conclusions, after checking out where the funding comes from and who meets whom at Washington D.C. cocktail parties. Or I may just be nasty here.