President Obama has said that he would reform the health care system by establishing a “public insurance program to compete with private insurers” that would help reduce costs and guarantee coverage. But Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), whose biggest campaign donor is the insurance industry, said he’s not interested in a public option. HuffPost reports why:
Nelson’s problem, he told CQ, is that the public plan would be too attractive and would hurt the private insurance plans. “At the end of the day, the public plan wins the game,” Nelson said. Including a public option in a health plan, he said, was a “deal breaker.”
As the Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky has written, “When considering health reform, policy makers have a choice to make: restructure the health insurance market so that it provides affordable and comprehensive health benefits to all Americans, or protect the monopoly of private insurers and continue redistributing as much income as possible to the private insurance industry.” Unfortunately, it appears Ben Nelson values the profits of insurers over affordable coverage for all.
Nelson isn’t the only Democrat withholding support for Obama’s health care plan. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) has said that he is “agnostic” about having a public plan as part of health care reform, and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) said that he believes health care reform can be accomplished “without” a public option.