Dems negotiating with themselves results in the inevitable crappy outcome.
A new measure on the public option will be unveiled next week, which Senate Democratic leaders hope will break the logjam on healthcare reform.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), who has been tapped by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to come up with a Plan B approach to the public option controversy that has divided Democrats, has been working closely with liberal and conservative Democrats, as well as Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine)....
"I expect early next week we’ll have something to share — not just with our colleagues, but with the broader community," Carper told The Hill. Reid’s office did not comment for this article.
The 62-year-old former governor said he is trying to "thread the needle" between conservative Democrats such as Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) and Independent Joe Lieberman (Conn.), who oppose a public option, and liberal senators such as Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Roland Burris (D-Ill.), who are insisting on it.
While we don't have specifics, the generalities show that this is the non-public, triggered, co-op style plan first brought up several weeks ago.
The public option would kick in for states where insurance companies fail to meet standards of availability and affordability of plans. Unlike Snowe's trigger proposal, which would give insurers at least one year to satisfy those requirements, Carper's public option would start the first year the bill goes into effect. States might be permitted to opt into the public option even if the benchmarks are met.
Under Carper's proposal, the bill would establish a national public insurance program founded by the government but managed by a non-governmental board. In addition, the plan would be unable to access any taxpayer dollars beyond its initial seed money. This public option would operate alongside private insurance and, potentially, the nonprofit healthcare cooperatives and state-based public plans authorized by Reid's bill.
With the government completely removed from management, this can't be called public. And to be acceptable to anyone, including Lieberman (who has so racheted up his rhetoric against this as to sound absolutely unhinged: "The public option is an unnatural and dangerous appendage to health care reform") the "standards of availability and affordability" would have to be set so as to never be met. That's the dirty little secret of Snowe's "bipartisan" contribution to the healthcare reform--her openness to compromise on a public option only goes so far as to ensure it will never happen. Bottom line: any trigger that will satisfy the likes of Lieberman and Snowe will never be pulled.
Reid's and Carper's Plan B isn't a compromise. It's a capitulation. And it's no solution to providing the necessary competition to the industry that our Dem leaders, from Obama on down, have been touting for all these months. It's a fig leaf that is unlikely even to appease the members it's supposedly geared toward. Add on top of that Ben Nelson and his filibuster threat over abortion and reconciliation is looking more and more necessary all the time.