President Obama Declares Support for ‘Public Option’ in a Health Insurance Exchange

Surfing back and forth between the cable news channels, FOX News and MSNBC, before President Barack Obama’s address to Congress on health care reform, a visitor from Mars would likely conclude that the Fox pundits and the MSNBC pundits reside in parallel universes, or perhaps on different planets. 

No surprise if it sometimes seems that people are brain-washed by either the conservative pundits at FOX or the liberals at MSNBC.

The president attempted Wednesday evening to speak over the heads of FOX and MSNBC, to speak directly to the American people. 

President Obama made his intentions and his resolve clear from the start of his address: “I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last.” 

The president refused to parrot the pundits on either political extreme. He attempted to position himself squarely in the center, saying he prefers “to build on what works and fix what doesn’t, rather than try to build an entirely new system from scratch.”

Congress has been pecking at health care for months, in the unlikely hope of achieving a bipartisan agreement. Wednesday, the president finally made clear his own proposal.

President Obama proposed a “new insurance exchange” from which citizens could select  and pay for the health insurance plan of their choice. He proposed that the insurance exchange “take effect in four years, which will give us time to get it right.”

Ending weeks of speculation, the president came down solidly for a “not-for-profit public option” to be available along with private health insurance choices in the insurance exchange.

To those who fear losing their present health insurance, the president said: “Nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have,” and he declared, “I will protect Medicare.”

And to those who urged him to fight for health care reform, President Obama said, “I will not back down on the basic principle that if Americans cannot find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice.”

He declared that the principles of social justice and the character of America are at stake in the health care decision.

Let’s not let cable news channels trivialize the issues.

— John Hayden

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