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Elimination of 'public option' threw consumers to the insurance wolves

Commentary: big firms and their campaign cash found a friend in Joe Lieberman

by Wendell Potter
Center for Public Integrity, February 16, 2015

When members of Congress caved to demands from the insurance industry and ditched their plan to establish a “public option” health plan, the lawmakers  also ditched one of their favorite talking points, that a government-run plan was necessary to “keep insurers honest.”

Getting rid of a government-run insurance option was the industry’s top objective during the health care reform debate. Private insurers set out to persuade President Obama and Congressional leaders that they were trustworthy. Lawmakers were led to believe, for one thing, that insurers could be trusted to offer policies that would continue to give Americans’ access to the doctors they had developed relationships with and wanted to keep.  And they were persuaded that insurers wouldn’t think of engaging in bait-and-switch tactics that would leave folks with less coverage than they thought they were buying.

When he was running for president, Obama regularly talked about the need for a public option. That was one reason why many health care reform advocates supported him instead of Hillary Clinton.

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