When President Obama spoke to members of Congress the other day about the need to enact health-care reform he conveniently forgot to mention the public option.
Senate Democrats got the message.
Their negotiators struck a tentative agreement Tuesday night to eliminate the “public option” — the controversial but necessary plan to set up government-run insurance program to provide competition (and an incentive to hold down costs) for private insurers.
The negotiators tried to ease the blow to the hopes of progressive reformers by agreeing to an initiative that would create a number of national insurance policies that would be developed by the federal Office of Personnel Management, which oversees health policies for federal workers, but administered by private firms.
If the private firms fail to do an adequate job, the Senate bill calls for establishment of a genuine public option.
More significantly, the Senate bill proposes to drop the Medicare eligibility rate to 55, a move that would permit millions of Americans to buy into the immensely popular federal program for retirees.
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