Sunday, August 16, 2009

A modest proposal

Rather than going through legislative mazes trying to cobble together a "public option", I propose the following:

We have a public option.

The government runs the Veteran's Administration. Any proposals intended to eliminate waste, save money, and improve service can be implemented there, without having to wait for HR3200 to pass. Just do it, and show all the skeptics how wrong they are.

Then, in order to give private health plans some competition, open up the Veteran's Administration to everybody. This would be an actual "public option" – to join it, just switch over – sign up and pay the premiums.

Charge whatever premium you intended to charge for the as-yet-unspecified public option, and use that money to expand the VA facilities to handle the uninsured of America. Any uninsured who are still unable to afford the premium can be given subsidized care, paid for by whatever mechanisms the authors of HR3200 have dreamed up. (And of course, the VA would have to handle pre-existing conditions the same way HR3200 is planning to address them in its own plan.) I'm sure it will work on the VA just as well as it would anywhere else. After all, it'll be the same efficient government running the thing in either case.

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