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WWL: Exploring the "Public Option"
Where We Live - with John Dankosky
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In this episode:

A conversation with the architecht of the public option


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48:59 minutes (23.51 MB)
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Four out of five House and Senate Committees have now passed health care reform plans that include a public option. But President Obama may be backing off. Jacob Hacker says the congressional plans range from the good to the not-so-good, to the downright ugly. Hacker is the political scientist from Yale who first proposed the public option. As the reform debate heats up and the August recess winds down, We’ll talk with Hacker about how he arrived at his version of the public option, how the idea has changed as its been through political ringer, and what we can expect to see from lawmakers returning to a Capitol Hill without heath care advocate Senator Edward Kennedy.

You can join the conversation about the “public option.” Would you like to see a government run plan that competes with private insurers?

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Jacob Hacker

What makes this guy an expert? This guy has absolutely no real world experience and absolutely no business experience. I can't believe the fate of the health care industry in America is dependent on such an immature nit wit who has spent all his life in schools and studying stuff that has no relevancy to the health care industry or economics or running a business.How long has he worked in any area of medicine or insurance? How does he calculate savings from his plan? How does he know how many people will be forced in to this public option? His Political Science expertise obviously gives him the right kind of background in preparing a socialist/communist plan disguised as "Public Option" because he knows exactly the most politically correct terminology. Look at how he prefers not to call anything single payer system because he knows clearly how much the public loathes it. All he has done is conducted public opinion polls and found out what the people like and don't like and then prepared this crap to meet his and Obama's goal of a single payer government controlled insurance program but initially starts off as one that's not threatening. This is what happens when you elect a law professor who never had to work a day of his life in the real business world as president of the country and the clueless guy asks another clueless guy to write a plan that affects 16% of our GDP! I am sure This Hacker Joker and the Obama Joker have in common a love for socialism/communism and a total hatred for any private for-profit business, never mind that's what has made America the greatest country on earth, bar none. This is amazing!

Listener email from Ian

I am a consulting actuary and I serve on the board of the Massachusetts Healthcare Connector Authority.

Question: Prof. Hacker claims that a government plan will save 10% to 25%. How?

I know of three ways:

1. A Government plan will not have to meet the same capital standards as private plans, which (our research shows) add between 2% and 6% to cost of insurance. But this simply transfers the risk to the taxpayer.

2. Not subject to state mandates, taxes and fees. Our New York client pays more in taxes and fees to New York than they pay in administrative costs.

3. Reimbursement of providers at rates below current market rates. Why should health insurance be subsidized by private providers? Answers would be appreciated.

Listener email from James

I suggest that the public option be renamed the New Medicare option. "New" is good, "Medicare" is good, so "the New Medicare option sounds like a winner.

Listener email from Dave

This whole discussion is predicated on the assumption that insurance is- or should be an "industry." Let's take a step back and ask what insurance really is. In this country we have lost sight or the distiction between for-profit business and basic infrastructure, and we take basic infrastructure entirely for granted. Insurance, like depository banking and personal lending, like clean water and electricity, is something that serves - or should serve - the public good. How have we come to believe that ANYONE should have a right to make a profit on such a thing? The fact that this discussion is mired in a debate about "competition in a market" points to the fact that we have been sold a bill of goods by the private, for-profit companies that have created the mess that we are in. Clearly the politicians considering the options are not in charge of the debate.

Listener email from John

My name is John and I did not get to ask my question on air and would like, if possible, for this to be passed on to Mr. Hacker.

My question, if I could have asked, was what he can say to the concern and fear of the public that this “public option plan” would cost every American in their taxes similar to the way Medicare takes taxes from every paycheck. It seems that one of the largest fears is that people will be paying for even more healthcare towards someone else. They claim to be already paying for the elderly, and they don’t want to have to pay for the uninsured now. What can Mr. Hacker say to these people who are worried that they will be paying for the poor’s healthcare. Thank you for your time and consideration.