Many progressives, liberals, and moderate conservatives (a dying breed) are celebrating the inclusion of a viable public option in the proposed Health Care Reform Bill, an accomplishment which should make Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proud. Fighting the influence of Olympia Snow on the Senate Finance Committee - who has stated that a public option would give the public sector too much of an advantage in the health care market - Reid was able to place the option into the bill with a compromise engineered by Charles Schumer, Senator from New York, for states to be able to opt out.
While this sounds fair on the surface, it should be remembered that it is not a "people's" opt-out plan, but a state plan. The roughly 154 million people who live in states where conservatives control the governor's mansion and/or the state legislature will probably never have a chance to enroll in a government-sponsored plan, and will have to choose from the plans offered by the entrenched insurance industry. The influence of the states that do opt for the government plan may not be enough to effect any true competition in the area of premiums, deductibles, co-pays and costs for services.
This compromise is being played out in the corporate media as being the best of both worlds. No mention is made of the facts that the public option was a severe compromise from the majority desire for a single-payer plan in the first place, or that the insurance industry has undue influence among the people's representatives. The opt-out plan is too far from perfect and we are not finished in our goal of effecting a true transformation of health care in these Relatively United States.
We must keep the pressure on - we can make a difference.