Keeping The Public Option Open – Or Not

logo-left The "public option" linchpin of President Obama's healthcare-reform plan appears to be slipping away by the hour. Obama – who while running for office said, "I happen to be a supporter of single player universal health care" – seems on the verge of abandoning a Medicare-like alternative to private insurance companies. During his Saturday town-hall-like meeting in Colorado, Obama toned down expectations sad, “The public option, whether we have it or we don’t have it, is not the entirety of health care reform. This is just one sliver of it, one aspect of it.” By removing the public option, Obama appeases conservative Democrats and removes the fear of "socialized medicine" from Republican opponents of virtually any health-insurance reform whatsoever.

Many would argue that no health-insurance reform worthy of its name is possible without a public option. Those arguers include the National Physicians Alliance, an organization of some 20,000 healthcare providers who collectively support a "robust public health-insurance option" and offer these facts for your consideration:

1. The choice of a public health insurance plan is essential to controlling costs.
2. This choice is incredibly popular - 73% overall; 77% Democrats; 79% independents; 63% Republicans, and is a political asset.
3. Voters do not believe that a public health insurance option will have unfair advantages over private insurance, despite industry rhetoric.
4. The public health insurance option provides:

* A guarantee of coverage that's always there
* A strong record of controlling cost
* Gives the government an effective way to implement measures to improve value