Public Option Might Not Be Dead

More

I just came from The Atlantic's Health Care Forum in the Ronald Reagan Building, where I conducted the keynote interview with Henry Waxman, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the recent past, and future, of health care. (My bias disclosed here; buy it in paperback this summer.) It's impossible to take notes or tweet about this sort of thing when you're up on stage firing off questions, of course--although members of the audience were tweeting it to #HCForum, if you want to check out some real-time views. But two things Waxman said stood out to me as being interesting and newsworthy.

The first came in response to a question I asked about what liberals might have wanted in the new law but didn't get. I cited the public option as an example, and Waxman, for his part, seemed to make clear that if the insurance exchanges don't function as intended--don't produce true competition--he'll revisit the idea of legislation to produce a public option (no idle threat when you're chairman of Energy and Commerce).

The second noteworthy thing was an exchange Waxman had with President Obama about health care that he shared with the audience. Obama told Waxman during the debate that many presidents before him had worked on health care legislation, and that he intended to be the last. Waxman replied that Lyndon Johnson had thought the same thing when he signed Medicare into law, and he says he told Obama that he certainly would not be the last president to work on health care. He's right, of course, and it's a good point to keep in mind: landmark laws like health care are practically living things, constantly changing and being updated well after they're signed into law.

Update: Another thing that struck me was how optimistic Waxman was that energy legislation would pass the Senate this year.

Later Update: Waxman also said Dems will hold the House this fall. I'd asked him, If you lose the House over health care, will it still have been worth it? Nicely played, Mr. Chairman.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Joshua Green is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In