Obama Demands: The Bill I Sign Must Include Public Option

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July 20, 2009 6:16 a.m.

While we’re talking health care reform: In his weekly radio address on Saturday, President Obama did what he’s refused to do all along–he said the public option isn’t an option at all.

[A]ny plan I sign must include an insurance exchange: a one-stop shopping marketplace where you can compare the benefits, cost and track records of a variety of plans – including a public option to increase competition and keep insurance companies honest – and choose what’s best for your family.

That’s a first. In the recent past, the White House has only demanded that health care reform expand and improve coverage while lowering costs. But Blue Dogs and conservative Senate Democrats have been raising noises about the public option, while citing concerns that the reform proposals on the table won’t cut costs. And with the debate reaching its crescendo, Obama’s letting them know they can’t have it both ways.

He has a point–introducing a robust public option would be an extremely effective way to retard the growth in health care spending. And those who are both demanding a bill that bends the spending curve downward, but also opposing any measures that would accomplish that goal, are being pretty nakedly inconsistent.

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