Two of the Democrats on the U.S. Senate Finance Committee are expected to introduce amendments to the health care reform bill today that would include the so-called public option. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the panel, says he doesn’t put a lot of faith in the effort by the Democrats being approved by the six-member committee.
“I think they’ll come close but I don’t think it’ll be accomplished,” Grassley says, “because I think there’s enough Democrats, plus the Republicans, and maybe for different reasons, oppose it.” Senator Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat who chairs the committee, says he left the public option out of his bill, because he didn’t think the legislation could pass if it included the option of letting the government compete with private insurers. Grassley agrees.
“Democrats might oppose it more because they think they want to get a bill through the Senate and no bill can pass the Senate with a public option,” Grassley says. “Republicans and maybe the same Democrats would have philosophical objections to a public option.” Some Democrats say the public option is the best way to rein in health care costs, but Grassley disagrees. He says the public option, as defined in the House bills, would pay Medicare rates.
Grassley says, “As a practical matter, if you’re going to pay a lot more people that go to hospitals in Iowa 80% of what actual costs are, like we do Medicare people, then our hospitals in rural America are going to have more financial problems than they now have dealing with just Medicare.” Grassley says the end result would be more people being pushed into a national health care plan, bringing higher premiums for those who wanted to keep their private plan.
Grassley says, “Pretty soon, you’re into a situation where everybody’s in the government plan and then you have a single-payer system like you have in Canada and you have the rationing and the denial of care and the delay of care that you have in Canada and I don’t think we want that for the United States.” For those reasons, Grassley says the plan doesn’t have much chance in the committee, but should it reach the Senate floor, he says “it’ll be a whole different story.”