A healthcare bill without a public health insurance option is not real healthcare reform at all, says former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, author of the soon-to-be-released Howard Dean’s Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform: How We Can Achieve Affordable Medical Care for Every American and Make Our Jobs Safer.
A new poll just released by the New York Times and CBS News shows overwhelming support for a public option—72% of Americans want it. And when you look at only Republican respondents, you find that an astonishing 50% of them want the option to choose between a government-run health insurance plan and private insurers. That is real bipartisanship!
With overwhelming public support—and even taking into account the Republicans in Congress trying to kill meaningful healthcare reform—it should be no problem for the Democrats to pass a bill with a robust public option. And yet Sen. Dianne Feinstein says they may not have the votes. What’s the deal? Are they spineless, or just crooked?
This week on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Dr. Howard Dean gives Democrats the benefit of the doubt: the “moderates” and “centrists” who oppose the majority of their party—and, more importantly, the vast majority of the American people—are good folks. But they need to find their spines pronto.
KO: Even in terms of party loyalty, not that you want a bunch of obsequious yes-men in every political party a hundred percent of the time, but maybe ten percent of the time? Is that OK? Is there no party discipline? Is—I mean, the Republicans seem to be fairly good at that. Where is a little touch of that when the Democrats need it?
HD: It’s not so much the party discipline, it’s the spine to stand up to people when they’re really being obstructionist. The Republicans just appear to be tougher and more disciplined, and we have got to stand up and do what’s right. Seventy-two percent of the American people want the choice—including in places like Indiana and Delaware, and states where folks are not, can’t make up their mind—we need a choice. The American people want—they don’t necessarily want everybody in Medicare. They just want to choose for themselves. And I think it’s time that the American people get to make that choice—and not the insurance lobby, and not the Senate, and not the Congress, and not the President, and not insurance company bureaucrats. Let the American people choose. That is the message. Three to one. And we’ve just, the people in Washington have got to make sure—we worked so hard to get this big majority—they’ve got to use it, and they’ve got to pass a public health insurance option. Real health reform.