by Tim Foley
OK, this is just getting plum silly.
You don't hear as much these days about how giving people the choice of enrolling in a government-administered insurance plan based on Medicare as one of many options in the Exchange marketplace will cause the end of private insurance as we know it (the Congressional Budget Office score predicting only 10-15 million people would enroll in a public option certainly put the damper on that myth). But you do hear all the time from Republicans and so-called moderate Democrats that "we can't afford a public option." They're playing on the confusion that "the public option" is the entirety of health reform, which it certainly is not. In fact, the public option is a net cost-saver. The Congressional Budget Office confirmed for the umpteenth time today that having it as part of health reform saves money for all of us.
To review, the CBO scored the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee bill twice -- once with an employer mandate and public option and once without. They found that a health care package with employers sharing responsibility and including a public option cost $400 billion less one that didn't have those items. Then they scored just the public option in the initial draft of the House bill and found that having it saved money -- $150 billion less -- vs. not having it.