Noticing that “days ago, buried in a chart under the headline “How the Health Care Bills Compare,” the New York Times provided some cogent yet cryptic information,” Norman Solomon (Guernica, 7/23/09) has done some valuable decoding of a Senate committee bill’s “public plan that would ‘compete with private insurers,'” as “the Times chart explained on July 18″:
The public plan “would provide ‘only the essential health benefits,’ as defined by the bill, ‘except in states that offer additional benefits.'”
Meanwhile, the newspaper noted, “Democrats from three House committees are working on a single plan.” Under that plan, “Different levels of coverage–‘basic, enhanced and premium’–can be offered through the public option.”
Those few grainy sentences, quickly swept beneath the waves from oceans of media, referred to a disturbing aspect of “public plan” scenarios. If the ostensible goal is healthcare for all, then–at best–some of the “all” would end up being much more equal than others.
The Republican Party is coming from such a right-wing place that any government action to improve healthcare access is ideologically unacceptable. In contrast, the broad outlines of a Democratic “public plan” at least embrace the precept that the not-so-tender-mercies of the market are insufficient to fully provide for the population’s medical needs.
But as a practical matter, a “public plan” coexisting with the private health insurance system–generally touted by U.S. media as the pole of real options farthest from the Republican “free market” fixation–is inherently reconciled to major inequality in access to healthcare.
While “media accounts keep telling us that the current political debate on healthcare is unprecedented and groundbreaking,” Solomon points to “an article in the latest edition of the Columbia Journalism Review, by seasoned healthcare reporter Trudy Lieberman, makes a convincing case that little has changed within the frames of media parameters.”
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