| Max Baucus has outlined an aggressive timeline to get a health care bill to the floor of the U.S. Senate -- his aim is to have one by early or mid-Summer. That's faster than what earlier speculation I had heard was shooting for.
In Mike Dennison's writeup this morning, he notes, correctly, that the Massachusetts plan that is similar to Max's plan has not controlled costs as much as it wanted to -- with attendant concerns for individuals, business owners, and taxpayers.
But there's a meaningful difference between Max Baucus's plan and the Massachusetts plan: Max Baucus's plan contains a public health insurance option. There should, of course, be a difference between the plans. Mitt Romney was Governor of Massachusetts when the plan passed. Barack Obama, who also supports a public health insurance option, is President of the United States.
Why is a public health insurance option so crucial? Bottom-line: it gives consumers an option besides the private insurance sector and, as such, keeps private insurance honest.
Jacob Hacker, a wickedly smart individual and fierce advocate of a public health insurance option, explains the need for a public health insurance option vis a vis constraining health care costs.
Basically, though, we need to get past what I'll call the Massachusetts plan (only private insurance) and the single-payer plan (only public insurance) and look at hybrids that combine the choice and competition of Massachusetts with the accountability and cost-containment of single-payer.
Fortunately, there is a plan out there with those features. It was drafted by our Senator.