For weeks now it's seemed more and more evident that instead of significant, meaningful healthcare reform, we are--if we're lucky--going to wind up with something akin to health insurance reform. These reforms will be pretty unassailable (who could oppose making it illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against pre-existing conditions, for instance?) but a far cry from what just a couple months ago seemed not just possible but probable--reform that included a robust, affordable public option accessible to all Americans.Why has the healthcare reform battle disintegrated so rapidly? Certainly the seemingly endless barrage of right wing lies and downright insanity over the summer didn't help. Neither did the White House's lackadaisical approach to countering it. But at the end of the day, real reform--the public option, considered today by the Finance Committee--should have had the votes it needed to pass. Instead it failed by fifteen votes to eight, with five Democrats voting against it.
Four out of five major committees have delivered in one form or another what 65 percent of the American public wants: a government-run public health insurance option. President Obama supports a public option, the majority of medical profession does, and without it there is no way healthcare costs can be brought down in any significant way.
And yet our Democrat-controlled Congress can't get its act together. Today, five Democratic senators rejected the most progressive version of the public option to emerge from the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Jay Rockefeller's amendment. Remember their names, because they should go down as traitors to what the Democratic party should stand for: Blanche Lincoln, Bill Nelson, Max Baucus, Kent Conrad and Tom Carper.