As expected, the Senate Finance Committee just rejected the Rockefeller amendment to include a public option in its health reform bill. During the debate, Chuck Grassley said:
The government is not a fair competitor. It's a predator.
The argument that the public option will kill the private insurance market is bunk: The public option would have to support itself from the premiums and co-pays it brings in from customers -- just as private plans do. And in many other nations, like France, there is a robust private insurance industry that coexists with a universal health care system, in which government guarantees free basic health care. The Dutch model is similar to what some Democrats have in mind.
But putting that aside, it's just really perverse to claim that government is the "predator" in this debate, when we know the havoc the insurance industry is wreaking on American lives: C-sections and domestic violence considered "pre-existing conditions"; annual and lifetime caps on medical spending, even for people who've been in catastrophic accidents; limited benefit plans that don't cover prescriptions, or preventive care, or mental health. The more insurers deny coverage, the more they profit. That's predatory, and it's why Americans deserve another option.
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