During the national health care reform debate, polls found 6o% of Americans and 63% of physicians supported having a publicly operated insurer in the competitive mix, along with private and not-for-profit insurers. But congressional Republicans wouldn’t allow Americans to have that choice available to them.
Could Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton right that wrong?
In Aaron Sinner’s Minnesota 2020 Hindsight blog, University of Minnesota School of Public Health Professor Jim Hunt, M.D. was quoted saying that Minnesota theoretically could develop an insurance option that was publicly operated.
Given the level of public support for a public option, and the potential for better, cheaper and more efficient care, why wouldn’t Governor Dayton – struggling to contain soaring health insurance premiums crushing Minnesota families and employers — develop a public option to compete with Minnesota’s health plans?
Two words: “House” and “Senate.” Minnesota Republicans control both chambers of the Minnesota Legislature, and it’s difficult to imagine they would ever authorize or fund a Daytoncare system.
But Vermont, California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts or another Democratically controlled state governments may very well develop a public option. Vermont and California are already headed down this road, so get used to the melodious sound of “Browncare” and “Shumlincare.” (The only thing that seems certain at this stage is that Coloradans will never allow their Governor to enact a public option, because “Hickenloopercare” obviously would be much too humiliating to utter in public.)
State-level experimentation could show Americans that a public health coverage option leads to cheaper, better and more efficient health care that doesn’t bring about grandmotherocide, as has been the experience in other parts of the world. If that happens, democratic pressure would mount to give other states’ citizens such an option.
So, weary health reform debate spectators and ranters, the fight about a public option is hardly over. In fact, it’s just heating up.