Senate Finance Committee Rejects Public Option Amendment

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Senate Finance Committee voted down a government-run "public option" as part an overhaul of the nation's health-care system Tuesday, rejecting the first of two amendments offered by Democrats.

The panel's chairman, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), and four other Democrats sided with Republicans in opposing a public-option amendment offered by Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.). Baucus said he voted against the politically volatile provision because he feared that a bill including it would not get the 60 votes it would need to pass on the Senate floor. The committee voted 15 to 8 to reject the amendment.

After the vote, the panel began debating a second public-option amendment introduced by Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).

"We are going to get at this, and at this, and at this, until we succeed, because we believe in it so strongly," Schumer said in offering his amendment. He disputed Baucus's contention that a health-care reform bill including the public option could never pass the Senate, saying the more Americans hear about its benefits, "the more they like it."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralSenate

13 Comments
Posted September 29, 2009 at 4:23 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Cole wrote:

Schumer said. The more Americans hear about benefits of a public option, he asserted, “the more they like it.”

That assumes that everyone just gets their censored news from the mainstream media.  Look people, I have two children who understand that they need to be either a full time student or full time employed to get their quality healthcare.  I think that is good because it is an incentive to be productive.  Wealth, affluence and even welfare depend on productivity.  Without that wealth generation, everyone suffers.

September 29, 5:28 pm | [comment link]
2. tgs wrote:

It seems like what’s going on in Washington is far more about getting a socialized medicine system on the books than about truly reforming health care. It’s time to stop this farce and start over slowly and carefully utilizing not only expert advice on the best way to bring down costs but also allowing input from the average citizen.

September 29, 6:16 pm | [comment link]
3. William Witt wrote:

Look people, I have two children who understand that they need to be either a full time student or full time employed to get their quality healthcare.

The so-called “public option” is not free government health care, as it is in every other industrialized country except the US.  The public option would mean that in addition to private providers there would also be one or more non-profit providers run by the US government.  Parallel analogies would be the US Postal Service and UPS, or public state colleges and private universities.  Although run by the government, neither the US Postal Service of public state colleges provide their services free of charge.  Private and public do tend to check and balance one another.  One could imagine what the already outrageous tuition would be at private colleges if there were no public alternatives that students could attend.

And, as even private universities offer government funded scholarships, so the public plan might well offer some kind of financial assistance to those who could demonstrate genuine need.

Of course, even in the US, there are public services that are given away free of charge without cries that we are producing a nation of ne’er do wells who refuse to work for a living.  I drive the public roads every day, and seldom am required to pay a toll.  I receive no bill if I have to ask a police officer for assistance.  I regularly walk in the public park only two blocks from my house, and pay nothing for the privilege. 

Nor can I see any advantage to turning these public services over to private entrepeneurs. Can you imagine if police or fire departments were run by the same kind of people who run HMOs?  If your employer had to bargain for the most affordable police protection for his employees?  If one had to pay a co-pay or deductible each time one asked for police assistance, and if there were a limit as to how much crime protection a given plan would provide? If people who had been victims of crime were denied police protection because of a pre-existing condition?  If one’s house might burn down and no fire truck would come because one had lost one’s fire protection between employment?

September 29, 6:25 pm | [comment link]
4. SteveCox wrote:

There is a wonderful scene in the movie “Gangs of New York” where rival fire companies arrive at the scene of a fire.  At first they stand in the street and dicker with the home owner over the price to help him save his home since they have no existing contract with him, but soon start fighting with the competing fire crew while his house and the one next to it are consumed by the fire.  Private enterprise has its limits.  A large government monopoly can be more efficient and effective for large-scale problems.

September 29, 7:09 pm | [comment link]
5. Jeffersonian wrote:

There is a wonderful scene in the movie “Gangs of New York” where rival fire companies arrive at the scene of a fire.  At first they stand in the street and dicker with the home owner over the price to help him save his home since they have no existing contract with him, but soon start fighting with the competing fire crew while his house and the one next to it are consumed by the fire.  Private enterprise has its limits.  A large government monopoly can be more efficient and effective for large-scale problems.

Perhaps, but a house fire isn’t one of those problems.  There’s no reason I can see for the government to have a monopoly in that area.  Why couldn’t a home owner contract with a private fire-fighting firm prior to the conflagration as opposed to during it?

September 29, 8:17 pm | [comment link]
6. Br. Michael wrote:

Actually, no government service is free of charge.  Not even the roads.  The service may be paid for by taxes and no additional fee charged, but government is most definitely not free.

September 29, 8:34 pm | [comment link]
7. Cole wrote:

#3:  You are a lucky man that you don’t have to buy gasoline or tires for your car.  You are also lucky that you don’t have to pay property tax or income tax.  This in reference to your third paragraph.  But you missed my point.  I would like to blend it into another.  All services that people consume by either paying for it or by someone else paying for it would not be available unless someone made it available through their productivity.  Socialism may have various impacts on different nations, but when it become a significant percentage of the economy, the quality of life will decline because the productivity declines.  Nobody will tithe a church if their mentality is only that of a consumer instead of a producer.  I mentioned the values I try to give my children because I want them the be producers and responsible citizens. 

Let’s move from the young to the elderly.  People who worked hard for all their life with the expectation that they have provided for their retirement are now in fear of facing diminished health care.  This is not unfounded.  The President and Congress have been less than honest about what they intend to do with health care.  You need to broaden your source of news to understand the particulars.

I just witnessed many businesses within a few blocks of my home along with the automobiles parked on my block damaged by some of those free-ride members of society who have nothing better to do than come to the G-20 host city and cause grief.  We don’t even know what their cause was or why they picked on us to vent their anger.  Again, our young need to be taught responsibility.  They should make a positive change by participation in improving society and producing something, not destroying something or blaming everyone else.  This is the mentality that the Left needs to learn.  This is what I’m concerned about with our present majority government.

September 29, 8:56 pm | [comment link]
8. SteveCox wrote:

They did, Jeffersonian.  There were these things called “fire-marks” that were the sigils of the private companies that you bolted to the side of your home so they would know they had a contract with you.  Sometimes they were off duking it out with other companies though, so they couldn’t get to your house.  And since there was no incentive to let another company handle the fire for them, your house burned down.  Eventually most of us just figured out that it was easier and cheaper to make it a government monopoly and call it a fire department.  Feel free to go start your own, though.  There might be a market for it.  grin

September 29, 8:59 pm | [comment link]
9. Jeffersonian wrote:

Not sure why they’d be off fighting each other rather than fires, but that’s what happens when you get your history from Tinseltown.  I can’t say I’ve ever seen a single supplier of any good or service I buy engaged in fisticuffs with a rival outfit. 

We even have these newfangled things called “telephones” that we can use to talk to people at long distances.  We might be able to use them to alert the firms we’ve contracted with to come fulfill their contracts.

Not a bad idea to start a private fire-fighting company, though it’s tough competing against a statutory monopoly.  If we could get communities to relinquish the taxation on those who choose outside services, it might just work.

September 29, 9:46 pm | [comment link]
10. upnorfjoel wrote:

Interesting outcome.  And scary as hell.  If the dummycrats who absolutely OWN Washington for now, can’t even get together to push this colossal mess through, then what does that tell us about exactly how bad this would be for America?

September 29, 11:21 pm | [comment link]
11. William Witt wrote:

You are a lucky man that you don’t have to buy gasoline or tires for your car.  You are also lucky that you don’t have to pay property tax or income tax.

I do indeed buy gasoline and tires for my car.  But I haven’t always.  I lived in Boston for ten years, and for a couple of years during that time time I did not drive a car at all, but took the subway instead—for which I paid taxes, and for which I also bought a subway token.  And the subway was a government funded operation.

But again, you miss my point.  I do not have to pay a co-pay every time I pull out of my driveway.  I do not run the risk of having my driving privileges suspended if I lose my job. 

The dichotomy between privately funded and publicly funded services is a false dichotomy.  There are no entirely privately funded organizations.  All private enterprises enjoy and benefit from government services in many ways.  There are very few entirely publicly funded and run organizations. 

And there are a good many organizations that are a mixture of both.  I worked for a non-profit homeless shelter for four years, run by the Catholic Sisters of Mercy.  They were a privately run charity, since their clients certainly could not afford their services.  But their finances came from a combination of individual donations, privately funded grants from business foundations, and government funding.  Without all three forms of financial contribution, they could not have survived.  And there were restrictions with all three forms of contribution.  Private donors and foundations could restrict how their donations could be used.  Government funding mandated certain policies about confidentiality of client information and non-discrimination.

The introduction of rhetoric about “socialism” in the health care discussion is nothing more than a red herring.  (1) Some organizations are better run as private industries.  (2) Some organizations are better run entirely by the government.  (3) Some organizations are better off as privately run non-profits, with funding coming from a possible variety of sources.  (4) In some cases, things work best when privately run and governnment run organizations compete to provide the same services.

An important part of the debate about health care is which of these four models is appropriate in this case.  In most Western industrialized nations, health care is run along some variation of models 2) - 4).  Even in the US, we have a good deal of 2 - 4), with the military and the elderly receiving much of their medical care through government funded and run agencies.  (My father, for instance, as a retired veteran, received some medications at a discount through a local military base, and was eligible for admission to a VA hospital.)

However, there are some areas where the temptations of an exclusively privately run “for profit” approach leads to disaster. We were warned when Hillary Clinton tried to push through her own version of health care reform of the dangers of government “taking over” health care, and that we would be denied the choices of our own physicians and quality care.  We were rewarded with HMO’s, which (I can testify from my own family experience) are a sheer disaster.  (My father suffered a massive stroke three years ago, and my mother and I went through six months of sheer hell fighting with insurance companies, hospitals, and a privately run nursing home. We had to make numerous decisions that cost each of us thousands of dollars and involved my being forced to leave a job and be unemployed for six months because of inadequate health care—and my father had insurance!)  In the last ten years, my own health care options have repeatedly deteriorated, going from excellent to compromised, to unsatisfactory.  More than once I have been temporarily without health care or had to pay exorbitant fees for COBRA to maintain health insurance when I was between jobs. In the last year alone, I have seen an extra two hundred dollars taken from my monthly salary for fewer benefits.  Although I currently have health insurance, I have avoided seeing a doctor at all for the last two years because my current policy has a very high deductible. Because of the financial sacrifices necessary to move to a new state combined with debt incurred with having to take care of my father, and take a new job teaching in a seminary that pays a bit less than my previous job, I cannot afford the deductible. Things could hardly be worse if the government provided options.

September 30, 7:31 am | [comment link]
12. SteveCox wrote:

Leaving aside any efforts at humor I really do want to respond to the comment about “I can’t say I’ve ever seen a single supplier of any good or service I buy engaged in fisticuffs with a rival outfit.”
The largest user of our very elaborate and very expensive legal system is the American business community.  Very few of us individual taxpayers who fund that system ever make direct use of it, but American business lives to battle each other in court.  You might want to consider that point the next time you’re tempted to argue against raising corporate tax rates.  And I actually have watched two Boston cabbies get into a fist-fight over which one of them was going to get the next fare.  I felt sorry for the poor guy who had to go off with the winner.

September 30, 7:44 am | [comment link]
13. Cole wrote:

#11:  You are not the only person who has had difficulties with the cost of health care.  My wife died of cancer and I was paying over a hundred dollars a day in co-pays in her last few weeks.  Her health care insurance company refused to give me a copy of the records because I had no standing with them, so I lost another ~ thousand dollars in unclaimed flexible spending account money.  I paid twice!  I have paid $387.00/mo in COBRA for one child while I was also paying health care insurance for myself and the other child, and doing it with less than half of my former family income.  Lets not throw the baby out with the bath water!  Fix what needs fixing, but do it carefully without coming up with more waste, corruption and inefficiency.  There is a consensus about issues like portability and pre-existing conditions, but not about illegal aliens, loss of medicare benefits or personal choice in plans and providers.  The rush to pass full socialized healthcare is causing a major backlash, and I hope Congress gets it right.

September 30, 9:22 am | [comment link]
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