Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What's In a Name? Some Dems Want to Rename "Public Option" as "Medicare"

In several blog entries, I have analyzed the perplexing (and immensely annoying) hypocrisy of many Republicans and conservatives who blast "government-run" healthcare, while claiming to support Medicare. In September, a PPP poll revealed that 62% of Republicans supported the idea that the government should "stay out of Medicare." This argument, however, is patently unsound because Medicare is a government-run and government-created health plan.

Also, many conservative bloggers (rightfully) criticized a recent violent attack against an elderly man who attended a rally protesting healthcare reform. These bloggers, however, conveniently neglected to report that the victim of the assault went to an emergency room and received treatment covered by (drum roll) Medicare (also known as a government-run health plan or public plan).

Even Joe "You Lie" Wilson is guilty of speaking out of both sides of his mouth. Although Wilson has blasted government-sponsored health plans as "unnecessary and unacceptable," he strongly praises and benefits from TRICARE, the government-run plan for military personnel, veterans and their families.

Although opinion polls continue to show that voters support the public plan option, many voters seem confused about the meaning of a "public plan" and the extent to which the federal government and states fund medical treatment. Nearly 1/3 of the public is covered by government-sponsored health insurance. In addition, workers who have "private" insurance health plans receive large governmental subsidies because these plans do not qualify as "income" for tax purposes. Only a small fraction of Americans actually purchase their health insurance out-of-pocket -- without governmental or employer support.

Dealing With Hypocrisy: Renaming the Public Plan
Apparently, some members of the House of Representatives realize the importance of framing and politics. According to an article in The Hill, some House Democrats want to rename the public option as "Medicare." This would link the supported -- though maligned -- public plan with an already established and popular government-sponsored program. The strategy would also force hypocritical politicians to confront the contradictory nature of their arguments that dismiss the public plan as "socialized medicine" but simultaneously seek to defend Medicare.


liberal dissent said...

I was wondering from the start why they didn't just do this. You'd think the Dems would have learned SOMETHING from the last health reform fight. Or every other single political fight from the past 30 years.

Aeneas said...

It won't work, though. Too many games have been played. The public (excuse the pun) has become too suspicious and too cynical. Yes, cynical. Darn, I though we cornered the market on cynicism. Whoever tries that will be laughed off the face of the earth.

Sue said...

Olbermann talked about this tonight. I think we will be hearing alot more on this name change in the next few weeks!

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