How Much is Bipartisanship Worth? About $2 Trillion
When Barack Obama campaigned for president, he promised that his health care reform would include the option of a government insurance plan that individuals could choose to buy. The insurance plan would resemble the government plan that congressmen have given to themselves. (Which is not surprisingly a very very good plan) Recently Mitch McConnell, Charles Grassley, Mike Enzi, Judd Gregg, and Orrin Hatch signed a letter demanding that private American citizens not have that choice.
A new report by the Commonwealth Fund claims that having the government insurance plan option would save $2 trillion over 11 years. The premium for the plan would be at least 20% cheaper than that from a private plan. Having the government insurance option would equal big savings for millions of middle class Americans.
The Republicans have made it clear that if Obama wants to pass health care reform with large bipartisan margins he would need to drop the government insurance choice. But Obama does not need Republicans to pass health care. If he is willing to play procedure hardball, he can pass the bill with only 50 senators (With VP Biden casting the tie-breaking vote). Barack Obama must choose between these two routes. He can keep his promise to work on a bipartisan basis. Or he can keep his promises to provide a government insurance option and bring down the cost of health care. The question facing Obama is bipartisanship compromise worth $2 Trillion.