Obama Puts Public Option and Single Payer Back on the Table
by Consumer Watchdog
At the National Governors Association, President Obama just threw his
weight behind a bi-partisan effort in the US Senate to allow states to
innovate with health reform, including adopting a public insurance
system or single payer health care system by 2013 instead of 2017.
The governors embraced the state innovations waiver proposal, since
conservative states want to weed back the federal health reform and
states like California might like to push ahead with public insurance
options or single payer health care systems.
The idea is to let states meet federal targets anyway they want to,
rather than how the federal government prescribes, by 2013 rather than
the current 2017 deadline.
This is one of Obama's only moves left, and a smart one. It gives
progressive reformers in California and elsewhere the ability to move
forward on ambitious reform plans that can pass at the ballot box in
24 states but would never get the time of day in Washington.
Facing strong legal challenges to the individual mandate, Obama did
the right thing by offering flexibility to states to meet targets for
access and benefits in the Affordable Care Act. He took a page from
longtime labor leader Joe Hill: "Don't Mourn, Organize." He's giving
those of us who favor a public insurance option to the private
insurance market an opportunity to move our states forward. We better
take Joe Hill's advice too and start organizing.
In my book The Progressive's Guide To Raising Hell, I point out how
the initiative process in 24 states and the District of Columbia are
the best hope to get the type of health insurance reform that Obama
promised in 2008. Today's announcement, if Republicans in Congress
bite, lets us act on ambitious reform via ballot measure before 2014,
the date mandatory insurance is set to take effect. Game on.
Posted by Jamie Court, author of The Progressive's Guide to Raising
Hell and President of Consumer Watchdog