Civilizing Discourse on the Public Option

There has been a great deal of debate about the shape of the so-called “public option,” a part of President Barack Obama’s health care reform plan that would address the tens of millions of uninsured workers in this country. In a nationally-televised speech last week the president clarified the purpose of this effort, but sadly his attempt to dispel myths about the public option was fraught with vagueness and contradiction. The president intends the public option to be non-profit competitor to private insurance companies, one choice among many in a newly-established insurance “marketplace.” As the president said, those entrepreneurs and employees who are not able to afford insurance under the current system will be provided access to coverage “by creating a new insurance exchange – a marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance at competitive prices.”