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The Progressive

By Ditching the Public Option, Obama Gave His Enemies a Path to the Supreme Court

The sad thing about the rightwing Supreme Court challenge to President Obama’s health care policy is that it was totally avoidable. It would have been impossible if Obama had offered a robust public option, like “Medicare for All Who Want It.”

Rather than forcing people to buy private insurance largely from the companies who’ve been ripping us off every step of the way, Obama could have and should have given people a choice.

If you want to keep your private health insurance provider, fine.

But if you want the government, in essence, to be your insurer, then join the Medicare program. This option the Supreme Court couldn’t invalidate unless it threw out the entire Medicare system, which has stood for 47 years.

My bet is that everyone but the most drunken devotee of Ayn Rand would have leapt at the Medicare for All option.


Because most people on Medicare are very happy about the coverage and grateful for the program. Just ask someone who’s on it.

It’s not perfect, but it’s a whole lot better than the private insurance market offers you.

And the administrative costs aren’t bloated because huge amounts of money aren’t wasted on CEO salaries and glossy ad budgets.

Unfortunately, Obama failed to present the option of Medicare for All Who Want It.

Instead, he bought in—and told everyone else under 65 who is not disabled to buy in—to the private insurance model.

And that’s the core of his problem today at the Supreme Court.

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Matthew Rothschild

Matthew Rothschild

Matthew Rothschild is senior editor of The Progressive magazine.

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