What If Obama Really Does Scrap the Public Plan?

5 views on how the loss could be a catastrophe or a minor setback for health care reform.

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True or not, clues dropped by Kathleen Sebelius on Sunday that the administration might jettison the public option--a plan to insert a government-run health insurer into the marketplace--sent waves through the blogosphere on Sunday. An administration official interviewed by the Atlantic's own Marc Ambinder backtracked a little from Sebelius, but confirmed that Obama does not view the public option as "the entirety of health care reform." What happens if he actually throws it overboard?

  • Obama Blows His Political Capital for Nothing, says Rachel Maddow of MSNBC in a preview of liberal frustration if Obama does nothing more than have "riled up an incredibly angry right wing base who's been told that this is a plot to kill grandma...and he will have achieved something that doesn't change health care very much."
  • Still a Reform Bill Worth Passing, says Nate Silver in the most extensive analysis of the consequences. "I think the good in this health care bill -- the move toward universal-ish coverage, the cost-control provisions -- is worth a heck of a lot more than $1,100."
  • Not Much--the Public Option Was Always Flawed, says Richard Thaler in the New York Times. "In debating the public option -- that is, an insurance option run by the government -- the politicians themselves are making exaggerated claims about its pros and cons." Scott Harrington puts it more strongly in the Wall Street Journal, saying that competition between the government and private insurers would have been "impossible."
  • All That Matters Is Covering Everyone, says President Obama in a weekend op-ed at the New York Times. He names his first priority as "if you don't have health insurance, you will have a choice of high-quality, affordable coverage for yourself and your family -- coverage that will stay with you whether you move, change your job or lose your job."
  • Loss of a Once-in-a-Generation Chance for Reform, say Jacob Hacker and Rahul Rajkumar in a New Republic rebuttal to Mickey Kaus. "Does anyone really think that we'll get another shot at this in the next ten years?"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.