Until now, the debate over a government-backed insurance plan has been largely partisan, pitting Democrats who support the concept against Republicans who don’t. Today, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) reminded us that the protection of regional industries will also play a role in this fight, telling MSNBC that private insurance companies are plenty capable of ensuring that all Americans have sound health care. His reasons for opposing the public plan option:
One is I’m fearful that at a time when we’re spending much too much money here in Washington, going much too deeply in debt that a public option on health care, no matter how you structure it, will end up costing the taxpayers money.
Secondly, we don’t need it. There’s more than 350 companies, maybe more than that, selling health insurance. There’s going to be a lot of competition for health insurance once universal health insurance comes.
And the third, and probably the most important, the votes are not there for a public health plan, government-run option. And this can stand in the way of a historic achievement for President Obama and Congress and the American people, which is really to establish a universal access to quality, affordable health care plan in America.
He forgot to mention that Connecticut, the home-base for scores of insurance companies, has the highest concentration of insurance jobs in the country. Not that it isn’t Lieberman’s job to represent his constituents, but at what point does the moral imperative of covering 46 million uninsured Americans trump the protection of insurance industry profits?