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Several of my more liberal/progressive friends are wringing their hands over the fact that the public option may not be part of any health care reform we get this year. They feel like they're being defeated, abandoned or both. I think it's a little too early for us supporters of a public option to start panicking.
I am a supporter of a public option. But, it's not the end, it's a means to an end. The end we are trying to achieve is affordable, accessible health care for everyone in the country. One way to ensure affordable coverage is to encourage more competition. Competition is great at driving prices down and keeping businesses honest. The public option is a great way to ensure competition in the health care insurance market. But, having a government run option for health insurance isn't the goal, it's a way of reaching the goal.
For the record, I am still in favor of a public option because it seems to be the simplest, most effective way to make sure we have at least one major provider who is competing with the best interests of the clients in mind. I haven't heard a better idea. A public option that was forced to survive based on the premiums it collects would be a benchmark that others would be forced to compete against. But, if the public option is displaced by a better idea that gets us to a market where everyone can afford health insurance and everyone has access to buying health insurance, I will not be upset that we "lost" a public option. Let's keep our eyes on the finish line.