Interest Groups Line Up To Battle Over Public Plan in Reform Efforts
Liberal and conservative interest groups are working to influence the public's impressions of a public insurance plan option that some Democrats are backing as part of a larger health care reform proposal, the Christian Science Monitor reports.
The Health Policy Consensus Group, a coalition of conservative interest groups spearheaded by the Heritage Foundation, listed the creation of a public insurance option as the No. 1 "deal killer" for health care reform. The group argues that the government would use its "regulatory, pricing, and taxing authority" to make it nearly impossible for private insurers to compete, leaving U.S. residents without a private alternative.
On the liberal side, former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean is leading a petition drive with MoveOn.org, Democracy for America and other groups in support of a public insurance option that functions similar to Medicare. The groups contend that such an option would not put private insurers out of business but would make them more efficient and responsive because of the increased competition (Marks, Christian Science Monitor, 4/8).
In addition, Health Care for America Now this week launched a national grassroots campaign to pressure lawmakers into supporting budget reconciliation as a means to passing health care reform that includes a public insurance option, putting pressure on centrist Democrats and Republicans to support such a plan.
Mike Lux, a consultant and co-creator of the group, said, "There will be a lot of push for Democrats to get on board with" a public insurance option and budget reconciliation (Bolton, The Hill, 4/8).Robert Blendon, a political and health care analyst at Harvard University's School of Public Health, said the idea of a public insurance plan is "not completely framed in the public's mind yet and so the debate could shape where people finally come out on the idea," adding, "It really matters how each side gets their ideas out there and frames the debate -- both sides are trying to influence bloggers and columnists to lay the groundwork for how people see it" (Christian Science Monitor, 4/8). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.