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Argument: Public insurance is public-private hybrid, not socialized medicine

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Supporting quotations

Jacob S. Hacker, Ph.D. "The case for public plan choice in national health reform". Institute for America's Future: "[Public option] is not an argument for a universal Medicare program, but instead for a “hybrid” approach that builds on the best elements of the present system—large group plans in the public and private sectors—while putting in place a new means by which those without access to secure workplace insurance can choose among health plans that provide strong guarantees of quality, affordable coverage."

Tom Daschle. "A public plan will reduce costs and improve access". Newsweek. May 2, 2009: "This is usually a safe bet; we have never won the World Series of health care. The last time we even won a big game was in 1997, with the passage of the Children's Health Insurance Plan. Before that, you have to go back to 1965, when we won Medicare and Medicaid.

Those were hard-fought victories, and the opposition then is familiar now. Our current debate has focused on whether reform should offer the choice of a public health-insurance plan. Many of the same arguments against a government-sponsored plan were used at that time, too—chiefly, that a public program will lead to a single-payer health-care system. The claim was nonsense, and nothing more than a shortsighted tactic. Fortunately, Congress didn't fall for it. Medicare is arguably one of the most popular government programs on the books today.

A growing number of Americans already get their health care from a public plan, including Medicare, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Plan (the Department of Veterans Affairs, of course, also provides benefits). There are public-private hybrids as well, like state employee health plans where the government assumes the risk and insurance companies are responsible for the management. The use of a public plan as it is currently proposed is simply an extension of what we have already done in public policy during the last 50 years. We just have to circle the bases."

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