In their attempt to defeat Obamacare, Republicans have focussed their criticism on the public option, painting it as the most objectionable feature of existing proposals. Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, has now proposed a plan without the public option. This leaves the Republicans in an awkward position, especially since Baucus's plan is projected to cost less than earlier proposals. If Republicans oppose the Baucus plan, they surely risk the ire of voters who will be told during the mid-term elections, "The Republicans blocked a plan that would have covered the uninsured and reduced the deficit."
The problem is, the public option was never the crucial issue; instead, it was the mandate to purchase insurance. Once government mandates insurance coverage, it gets to define what constitutes insurance, which means it can ban pre-existing condition clauses and the like. The mandate also"justfies" large subsidies for insurance, to avoid non-compliance with the mandate. So, an individual mandate, which the Baucus plan includes, implies a rapid takeover of the entire health care system by the federal government.
Something like the Baucus plan will pass. It will either cost far more than existing projections, if government administrators fail to impose the restrictions on reimbursements that generate the projected cost savings, or it will involve massive rationing of care.
The Democrats played it perfectly. The Republicans got sucker-punched.