Is watered down health-care reform better than none at all? It depends, but news that the public option may be toast is deeply depressing although not at all surprising.
The public option, for those of you who haven't been paying attention, is a government program akin to Medicare that would compliment -- some would argue unfairly compete with -- the private for-profit plans that are the biggest reason so many Americans are un- or under-insured and health care is so damned expensive compared to other industrialized nations.
Giving up on the public option has only one benefit from my perspective: It would silence some of the critics who claim that President Obama's plan would be a government takeover of health care, and maybe even win some Republican votes. But the downside is ginormous: The folks that broke health care will have little incentive to help fix it, and alternative concepts like a non-profit co-op system being pushed by some moderates seem great in theory but in reality are the equivalent of Bud Light.
While we're on the subject, hair-on-fire conservatives have certainly moved what has passed for a debate on reform to the right and all too often on out into the lunatic fringe, but they aren't the people who are killing the public option. It's congressional Democrats.
Yup, those selfsame folks who are back in power because of a fella from Illinois who had the vision to inspire an electorate even if he was a little over the top on that bipartisanship thing. How sad that these folks are more comfortable being in bed with the medical-industrial complex than the man who saved their bacon.
And while we're still on the subject, isn't the Whole Foods boycott about the silliest idea you've heard of in a while? As well as a reminder that lefties can be loonies, too.
Yes, the Whole Foods CEO had some rather strong things to say about health-care reform in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that were sure to alienate some of his arugula-eating customers, but the company itself is a model that puts other food-store chains to shame with starting salaries well above minimum wage and great benefits.
Well, here we are still on the subject, and so I offer two modest recommendations. If you know people who still are on the fence about reform, invite them to:
* Stop by their local VA hospital and chat up a veteran about the care they're getting. Yes, the VA system has had problems, but overall it offers superlative government-run care. Howcum we care enough about our vets to let Uncle Sam care for them but not citizens who don't happen to have worn uniforms?
* See Michael Moore's Sicko. While the ending is a little over the top, the movie is spot-on accurate. And very scary once you understand how we've gotten into this mess and that the time is now to get out of it.
To end at the beginning, I do believe that watered-down reform is better than nothing. It's a foot in the door, or maybe just a pinkie, but it's a start, and those of us with long memories will recall that Medicare also wasn't built in a day and initially didn't even include disabled people.
Now back to baseball.