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The reasons this needs to be a big part of the public debate:
- This was Kennedy's last piece of unfinished life work. All those reporters who claim to know what Kennedy wanted are doing a disservice by not citing Kennedy's own legislation on the matter.
- Kennedy himself was personally pushing for a public option in the form of Medicare for All (this negates any claim that Kennedy would have not supported a public option).
- This is an example of what he would have wanted to pass (he reintroduced the bill, so it wasn't just some one-time idea of his).
- The bill was amazing in its simplicity, countering arguments that all health reform components are by nature arcane and indecipherable: every 5 years (every 2 years in another version) the eligibility for Medicare would be lowered by 10 years (and raised from below by 10 years), with those under 65 being asked to check a box on their taxes if they signed up for Medicare (to be charged for it). It's a simple model for the public option, and hard(er) to lie about.
- I believe David Waldman at Daily Kos was correct when he pointed out that it would make sense for the public option to be the "Kennedy plan"; irrespective of the politics, it would make sense because Kennedy's own bill was a public option bill, not a comprehensive reform package with 100 moving parts.
This is an idea whose time has come, and there ought to be robust public discussion about it.