Ben Nelson’s Lonely Stand Against a Public Plan


Ryan Grim has a great story that makes the point that the inclusion of a “reconciliation” option for health care reform is having its desired effect. With moderate senators now aware that they can’t stand alone and block change, more and more centrists are saying they’re at least “open” to a public option in health reform, since they don’t want to be cut out of the process. But not Ben Nelson, he’s a real fanatic about defending the interests of for-profit health insurance companies:

A Nelson spokesman said that Nelson is still talking to like-minded colleagues in hopes of building a coalition opposed to the public plan.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the possibility of using health reform to control health care costs. Those possibilities are real. But they’ll only emerge if a good system is put into place with good incentives. And a public option is an important element in trying to create a dynamic where insurance companies are under competitive pressure to deliver the kind of efficiencies for which the free market is so highly touted. Without it, there’s a very strong risk that competition will just take the form of trying to skim the healthiest patients, with no real efficiencies wrung from the system.