I previously wrote that although our activism should remain oriented towards single-payer advocacy, a genuine public option in a health reform bill would be somewhat of a triumph. That being said, the guidelines that my own dear Senator Chuck Schumer set forth for any public option would totally gut the purpose of having such an option. Here are the absurd conditions Schumer laid out in the New York Times:
- The public plan must be self-sustaining. It should pay claims with money raised from premiums and co-payments. It should not receive tax revenue or appropriations from the government.
- The public plan should pay doctors and hospitals more than what Medicare pays. Medicare rates, set by law and regulation, are often lower than what private insurers pay.
- The government should not compel doctors and hospitals to participate in a public plan just because they participate in Medicare.
- To prevent the government from serving as both "player and umpire," the officials who manage a public plan should be different from those who regulate the insurance market.
Thanks, but no thanks Chuck! If a once-in-a-generation chance for real health reform spearheaded by a popular President, a Democratic legislative and a public that is firmly behind publically funded health care yields something like this then perhaps I have cause for becoming even more cynical than I am now.