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The New Republic: Thinking Outside (the Public Option) Box

The Public Option received CPR this week, only to see it go back into the ICU with a House vote tally coming up short and Senator Lieberman making bold claims against the idea. You can read a rebuttal to Joe’s peculiar reasoning here. Regardless of the sound-byte-of-the-day theme that has been going on in DC lately, the House is definitely a few votes short of being able to pass a Robust Public Option (with Medicare +5% rates). On the Senate side the CBO is crunching the numbers on a few versions of the bill that Reid sent them, which may or may not sway the middle votes like Lieberman, Nelson, and Landrieu. The centrists will certainly vote for the bill to come to the floor, which will allow for several weeks of amendments to effectively address their concerns.

The White House Office of Health Reform’s Nancy-Ann Parle took a step-back in yesterday’s New Republic conference by giving a list entitled: “The 7 Things That Don’t Get Talked About Enough.” The list encompasses substantial improvements that health reform will bring about, and deliberately leaves out the Option. Not to say that the Public Option wouldn’t be an effective coverage and cost containment mechanism, but it is important to remember that whatever form it takes should not predicate the ‘success’ or ‘failure’ of reform. It is merely a piece of the puzzle.

7 Things That Don’t Get Talked About Enough:

1) Positive impact on small business (which Obama linked to growth here
2) Affordable coverage for young adults (and better risk pools for all by including this healthy group)
3) Stronger transparency and accountability in health insurance industry (medical loss ratios, data reporting, etc.)
4) Lower costs to consumers (removing pre-existing condition exclusions, uncompensated care costs)
5) Delivery system reform (paying for performance pilot programs, etc.)
6) Administrative simplification (claims form standardization and electronic communication development), ex: Health insurance claims process costs $7.50 compared to pennies in other insurance industries
7) CMS Innovation Center (to promote best practices, isolate regional disparities, improve quality)