So the compromise that ended up in the House bill is to have a mere public option, open only to the 6 million Americans not otherwise covered. The Congressional Budget Office warns this shrunken public option will have no real bargaining leverage and would attract mainly people who need lots of medical care to begin with. So it will actually cost more than it saves.
But even the House's shrunken and costly little public option is too much for private insurers, Big Pharma, Republicans, and "centrists" in the Senate. So Harry Reid has proposed an even tinier public option, which states can decide not to offer their citizens. According to the CBO, it would attract no more than 4 million Americans.
It's a token public option, an ersatz public option, a fleeting gesture toward the idea of a public option, so small and desiccated as to be barely worth mentioning except for the fact that it still (gasp) contains the word "public."
Harry Reid, and What Happened to the Public Option
This sort of thing has been a staple of Congressional politics for years. Call something what it is not, and then have a big, public struggle over the thing that is no longer what it was supposed to be, and then claim a great victory when it finally passes in a form that is completely useless for whatever purpose it was begun. I wrote the articles, wrote to Congress, and all we got was this piece of crap.
That's where we are now with health care reform. What's worse, this is probably the last time this group of ethical midgets will take up the issue. If we're very lucky, their successors will pick it up again in another twenty years or so. Unless they're a lot more progressive than the current bunch, it won't go any better.
My advice to anyone who is a young American who wants to have health care when he (or she) reaches his mid-forties is this: Learn a foreign language. Learn it well enough to make a living overseas. Then acquire another valuable skill to go with it. Unless you're one of the lucky few who get rich in this country, you won't be able to afford being ill here.
That's the future the jokers in Congress and the White House have left you.
Now, I think we're done with health care.
UPDATE: I neglected to point out that Reich's article is well worth reading in its entirety, to learn how the sad arc from health care reform to health care "reform" played out.