Media False Equates Cantwell's Amendment With Public Option

Last week, Think Progress wrote a piece about how the media was falsely equating Cantwell's “basic health plan” amendment with a public option. Since then, the problem continues to persist, so I think it needs to be addressed again.

Politico has repeatedly referred to her amendment as a public option alternative, “quasi state-based public option,” and “quasi public plan option.

MSNBC has two videos up on the health section with Cantwell talking about her amendment labeled “small victory for public option” and “nearly public option passes Senate committee.'” MSNBC's first read also repeated the claim that it is as a public option.

The Hill claimed that Cantwell's amendment would “enable states to form their own public options.” In another article about Democrats trying to come up with a form of a public option it was called “optional state-based public plans.”

This confusion is not just limited to news organizations. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin has also claimed that Cantwell's amendment is public option.

I do not want this falsehood to continue. I don't dislike Cantwell's amendment. In fact my biggest complaint is that the amendment is far too weak. I think it should be strengthened and expanded, but that is a side issue. The important thing is that it is not a public option. It is a fact that I have repeatedly pointed out, as have others.

I know Cantwell has a responsive communications staff. I hope they contact these news organizations and ask them to stop falsely claiming that Cantwell's “basic health plan” is some type or form of a public option. It would be unfortunate if the progressive grassroots were forced to attack a decent idea because some political operatives tried to use it as an excuse for not including a real public option as part of health care reform. If the same media sources continue to equate Cantwell's amendment with a public option, I will be forced to continue speculating that Cantwell (or some members of the Democratic leadership) wants this falsehood to persist.

I honestly do hope that we can debate Cantwell's "basic health plan" idea on its own merits, completely separate from the issue of a public option. I would like to see how a much improved version could make it into the final bill.

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