With all the firefighting discussions yesterday, we missed the dust-up over Tom Daschle’s new book. In an interview at TAP, Daschle admitted that a deal with the hospital and insurance lobbies kept the public option out of the healthcare reform bill. Though he walked it back almost immediately, it’s apparently part of the book:
In his book, Daschle reveals that after the Senate Finance Committee and the White House convinced hospitals to to accept $155 billion in payment reductions over ten years on July 8, the hospitals and Democrats operated under two “working assumptions.” “One was that the Senate would aim for health coverage of at least 94 percent of Americans,” Daschle writes. “The other was that it would contain no public health plan,” which would have reimbursed hospitals at a lower rate than private insurers.
I’m willing to accept that a whole bunch of ugly deals were made in back rooms in order to get HCR done. What I don’t get is why Democrats thought it was a good idea to pretend that the public option was a possibility long after the deal to kill it was in the bag. Millions of pixels were spilled, thousands of calls were made, and all kinds of energy was wasted in a manufactured drama over whether “we” would get a public option long after “they” had decided it was impossible. I know that some progressive wishful thinking went into the mix, but a lot of it was driven by occasional hints that the public option could be added back into the bill.