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The 'Public Option' Fix: Let States Do It

Proposals for a federal government run health care program for the uninsured, the so-called public option, is the third rail of Washington politics. All who come near in support are likely to get singed, although public support seems to be growing.

But what if a way could be found to provide the goal of the public option -- more competition to private insurers that would reduce medical costs -- without need for a massive new federal bureaucracy?

Harvard Business School professor Bob Pozen thinks he has an idea that could work. Current reform proposals envision state health care agencies acting as group purchasing agents for those who are currently uninsured. What if we took that a step further and said states will also offer, as one choice, a state run health care plan. "This could be, for example, a health care plan for local teachers or state government employees," Pozen writes on his blog post, A Public Option That Would Work.

The beauty of this plan, concludes Pozen, is that public health care apparatus already already exists in every state or region of the land -- no great new bureaucracy needed, more local control preserved.

Several of Pozen's blog readers take issue with the idea, such as Greg's view that "This plan only shifts problems around from one level of government to the next, it does not address the problems of control and cost."

What do you think? Are states the answer to providing a public option? The floor is yours.

Related Reading

Public Option: Everything You Need to Know (CBS moneywatch.com)

(No stethoscope image by Mykl Roventine, CC 2.0)

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