Last night, President Obama said that he wants to hold insurance companies accountable:
Now, I have no interest in putting insurance companies out of business. They provide a legitimate service, and employ a lot of our friends and neighbors. I just want to hold them accountable.
And he told House Progressives that the public option was only one of many possible means to that end:
To my progressive friends, I would remind you that for decades, the driving idea behind reform has been to end insurance company abuses and make coverage affordable for those without it. The public option is only a means to that end - and we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal.
In response, I submit the following: it is impossible for the federal government to hold insurance companies accountable if those insurance companies can dictate whatever types of legislation they want to Congress.
Private health insurance companies have made the public option just as much of a sticking point as House Progressives have. Whereas House Progressives have stated they will oppose any health care reform legislation without a "robust" public option, private health insurance companies have stated they will oppose any legislation that includes one.
If these private health insurance companies can have a public option removed from health care legislation just because they do, then there is really no way to hold private health insurance companies accountable. If these companies have enough control over the federal government that they can dictate legislation against the wishes of the member of Congress themselves, then there is simply no way that the federal government can hold private health insurance companies accountable by any means.
So far under the Democratic trifecta, we had stimulus bill that was approved of by the Chamber of Commerce. We saw limits on executive compensation for firms receiving bailout money removed from that same stimulus bill in order to get those executives to accept hundreds of billions in government loans. We had bankruptcy reform favorable to people losing their homes removed from housing legislation in order to appease those same banks. We saw six Democratic Senators flip on card check legislation to appease large employers. We saw a climate change bill that gives away billions of dollars worth of pollution permits to major polluters for free. Now, we have a health insurance industry seeking to kill a public health insurance option just because there might be a chance that providing insurance to people without providing hundreds of millions in salaries to executives might actually result in lower-priced health insurance.
I submit that as long as powerful financial institutions--and that is exactly what private health insurance companies are--can dictate legislation to Congress, then there is no possible way for Congress to hold those financial institutions accountable. You can't drop the public option at the behest of private health insurers and then still think you are somehow going to hold those insurers accountable through a different means.
This fight is about who runs the country. If Congress drops the public option, it will be because private health insurers told them to drop it. If there is no public option, then these powerful corporations and financial institutions are the ones telling Congress what to do, not the other way around. And when someone is only and ever giving you orders, good luck ever holding that someone accountable. Ever.