Face It: the Public Option's a No-Go

'Political litmus test' wouldn't be effective anyway
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 19, 2009 8:31 AM CDT
Former DNC chair Howard Dean has strongly backed the public option.   (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
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(Newser) – The public health care option is simply a “political litmus test” pushed by left-wingers to represent their side of an “ideological war”—and it’s time to give it up, writes Steven Pearlstein in the Washington Post. “There is nothing about having one government-owned health insurance company that is likely to change the competitive dynamic and bring costs under control,” he notes.

For a government-run plan to bolster product and price competition, it would have to be so big as to “immediately unite doctors, hospitals, and drug companies” against it. As for the argument that it would match Medicare's ability to keep administrative costs as low as 2% or 3%, after collecting premiums, marketing itself, and maintaining a reserve—which Medicare doesn't do—that figure would balloon. But there’s plenty we can do, including some measures already on the table, like bringing national insurance companies to virtually every market, and others, like beefing up antitrust laws, that aren’t yet in a bill.