While I generally like much of what Senator Lindsay Graham has to say, I was rather disappointed in his comment on ABC's This Week concerning the "public option" in any health care reform bill. While much debate is necessary, the country can do without truly disingenuous and ideological statements like this.
Graham criticized a proposed system where "the bureaucrat sits between the doctor and the patient" and "you'll wait longer to get treated and you'll get the treatment the government decides for you, not your doctor." How that is any different from a system where "the insurance adjuster or HMO executive or financial manager sits between you and your doctor"? How is that different from "the insurance company or HMO deciding what treatment you get and not your doctor"? How is that different from the current system where I wait seven weeks to see a specialists and a colleague waits a year for an MRI and another for the necessary back surgery?
Clearly, his opposition to the "public option" has validity, but his comments are simply dishonest, and that sort of ideological use of sound-bites doesn't contribute to the discussion. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of Senator Graham's comments is that he has government-sponsored insurance. Is he having problems with bureaucrats (namely himself) getting between him and his doctor? Is he having his care rationed? Is he letting the government decide which of his treatments are covered? The FEHBP preserves the private sector by allowing providers to bid to a pool of nine million employees, including Congress. Satisfaction with the plan is extremely high - Senator Graham certainly isn't pushing to change his plan.
I hope the Senator will consider revisiting his position on the public option, and seek to build a comprehensive understanding of the issue. He might also consider the reality that polls show 70 - 75% of Americans support the "option" of a government plan, and those statistics include Republicans. Therefore, in the spirit of a democratic republic, I am opposed to Congress refusing to give voters "an option." That doesn't mean people will have to choose it or will want to. But fearing the giving of a choice to voters shows a real lack of faith in the American people.
That said, I am not in favor of a public plan, but I think Senator Graham and the Republicans are missing a real opportunity to offer a comprehensive plan that legally "preserves" the private sector control of providing health care and insurance. This could be found in the bi-partisan Wyden-Bennett Plan, also known as The Healthy Americans Act (HAA). It is, in many ways, an extension of the FEHBP to all Americans where as many as 300 providers bid to serve a pool of 300 million Americans, and people purchase as much or as little as they need. It is a good plan, it resembles all the best parts of the American system, and it blends in the positive qualities of systems such as Switzerland or France.
If nothing else, I hope Senator Graham will answer the questions about his own health insurance and refrain from truly disingenuous and ideological malarky when discussing the issue - or just refrain from talking about it at all. I'd rather he be silent than actively deceiving people.