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Chan Lowe: selling the public option

option.gifIt's all very clear-cut, really.

Since it seems that we are to be eternally cursed with health insurance companies, polls show that most Americans like the idea of a public option--a non-profit health insurer administered by the government--to act as real competition to keep their prices in line.

After all, since insurance companies are exempt from antitrust laws, and some have a virtual monopoly on their business in many states, they shouldn't have it both ways, should they?

Critics complain that the public option is a Trojan horse that will eventually usher in the dreaded single-payer government health plan, and be the death of private insurers. I'm not sure where the threat lies here: it's like saying that introducing penicillin will mean the death of venereal disease.

Anyway, it should please states-rights conservatives that the Democratic leadership is offering a state opt-out as a sweetener. This way, blue states can have their public option, and red states can--on principle--reject its subversive, godless, socialistic philosophical underpinnings if they want to.

Of course, if the red-staters begin to notice that the blue-staters' premiums are falling precipitously, there may be a reapportionment of legislators in the next statewide elections. Money always talks, and...well, you know the rest of the expression.

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Where's the joke about Tort reform? The simplest way to solve a large majority of health insurance issues and the Libs don't want to talk about it. What makes you think the Gov't can control 1/5 of the economy? Medicare is doing so well at only $63 Billion in debt.

I think the real problem with convincing people that the public option is a horrible idea is that everyone in American has seen Grandma get essential health care with relatively few hassles from Medicare and everyone has fought with their own "vastly superior" private health care company (if they have one). The contrast between the current realities of private versus public is hard to hide when you are trying to smear the public option.

In typical Democratic fashion, Lowe makes an incorrect statement, assumes it is fact and then bases his whole discussion over this falicy. What poll shows that Americans overwhelmingly support the Public Option? I haven't seen one poll yet that supports that view. So please if that is true, how about some documentation to back up your claim?

Second, the ability to opt out of public care does not necessarily mean the ability to opt out of paying for it. See public education. If you choose to pay to send your children to private school, that does not alleviate you of the obligation to pay for public education. Let's not confuse the two concepts here.

Finally comes the government ability to run ANYTHING. I'll leave that judgement up to each of you.

If you think health insurance is expensive now...just wait until it's free.

Liberals think the government can do everything better than the private sector can. It would help us greatly to have a truly free market for not bound by government restrictions and state lines. If people could purchase however much insurance they want from anywhere in the country...prices would drop drastically because companies would have to compete with the entire country.

You're out of your mind if you think the government can run the nation's health care. This gigantic monstrosity we call government is so heavy with bureaucratic bullshit that they can barely manage the simplest of tasks without applying scores of people and spending trillions of tax dollars. It's the only thing they are really good at. Our government has repeatedly and consistently demonstrated total incompetency on 95% of every program it's ever become involved in ....and YOU believe they would do a good, cost effective job at running our healthcare? Jeez. Why don't you stick to something you seem to know something about ....drawing cute little pictures perhaps.

Mike: you're a whining typical shameless conservative just trying to make excuses. Why not try googling the key words: "poll shows americans back public option" ??? Don't worry. If you're too incompetent to figure it out for yourself, I did it for you. Here are links:

The Washington Post (most widely respected reporting by BOTH liberals and conservatives):

NY Times/CBS Poll:

That's TWO major news polls.

Chan says: It's amazing how every discussion on this blog inevitably gets personal. Thank you for your comments, Kevin. I hope you're happier with your health insurance than I am.

Chan: You're right. My personal comments about you were totally out-of-line. I'm sorry and I apologize. As you can probably see, I'm very passionate about this issue and I let my emotions override my common sense and dignity.

Just FYI - I am 100% for health care reform. I know we need rules in place to make our system better. While I believe that our less fortunate US Citizens should be provided with either free or significantly subsidized health care, I do not want free health care to be provided to people who are in this country illegally. With a few exceptions, I believe that insurance companies should be forced to insure people with preexisting conditions. I also believe that one major reform that the politicians DON'T seem to be too keen on tackling is changes to TORT laws. (Why wouldn't it make sense to start with that issue and work our way forward from there? Hmmm, makes you wonder.) I believe we can accomplish these changes and the many others that are needed without making the monumental mistake of putting into play a bill that has even a remote possibility of leading to a government takeover of our health care system. If a "public option" passes as part of the bill, then it's a sure bet the government will eventually be running health care. I firmly believe the government is just not up to a job of this magnitude or importance. Like it or not, healthcare is an's a business and the government doesn't know how to run a successful business....they have absolutely no experience in that area. They know how to make rules and spend money and govern. If the government WERE a business, they would have failed many, many years ago. In no way could they provide the cost effective health care that they claim. Their involvement would only take a bad situation and make it worse....much, much worse, maybe not immediately but it would happen.

Once again...I'd rather stick with my private health insurance provider than have to deal with the layers and layers of bureaucracy, incompetency and outright wastefulness of the government.


Thank you for your apology which I'm happy to accept. One thing you have to develop when you author a blog is a thick skin.

I'm glad you returned to state your very thoughtful comments. There is no question that tort reform is a necessary part of a health care overhaul; the fact that it isn't mentioned in this context is a testimony to how much the Democrats owe to the trial lawyers.

One of the big differences I see between government and business (in your analogy) is that government doesn't have to show a profit to shareholders every year, so there is no incentive to be efficient. All individual "directors" (members of Congress, in this analogy) have to do is deliver to narrow self-interested groups of constituents who have little interest in the fiscal soundness of the corporate body as a whole. Your pork-barrel is my sorely-needed home district project.

Judging from government's track record on Medicare, you're probably right that it'll also do a lousy of job of administering a public option. But it might at least do some kind of job of covering people who can't or won't be covered by private industry. If you want to talk about layers of bureaucracy, insurance companies can stack them up against anything the government can produce.

There is no pie-in-the-sky solution to this. Government is no panacea, but then again, before programs like Social Security came along, seniors had absolutely NOTHING they could depend on. Where we may disagree, civilly now I'm glad to say, is that I don't think a government program, with all its warts, would be necessarily any worse than what we have now, so I don't share your fear of an eventual takeover.

Actually, there is a question if tort reform is important: There are no available facts about where all these health care dollars they keep telling us we are spending actually go. Maybe a significant portion winds up with lawyers, maybe it winds up in the pockets of insurance executives, maybe it all goes in the war chests at drug companies. Every politician has his own partisan spin on where the money goes to justify his political opinions, but there are no actual facts available. That's the main reason I suspect the reform attempt will be a useless mess: They didn't even stop to find out where the money we are supposed to be wasting actually goes before they designed the system that is supposed to fix all the waste.

go to Venezuela, where your ideas mesh with The Leader's

Hey Mike, got another poll by a major news outlet for you:

Funny, you haven't had diddly squat to say in response.

Hey Chan! Got some great links that should provide GREAT fodder for future cartoons for you (especially the contents of the Rolling Stone article):

John Dingell Op-Ed:

Rolling Stone:

The content of these articles is simply **outstanding** material to shut any conservative up.

If you want free healthcare go to Cuba, Venezuela or any other country that have it. We, the conservatives believe in the free market. We dont want to pay for people that chooses not to buy it. That is your choice. You libs rather buy the latest iphone $400 plus or plasma tv or other crap instead of getting healh care plan. Get your priorities straigh. By the way there is nothing free some one has to pay for. Keep blaming and taxing the rich. Lets see when they pack and leave with their money who is going to pay for you lazy guys.

Our soldiers are fighting and dying for democracy overseas, let's not abandon it at home!

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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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