NBC Doc Agrees with Howard Dean: No Reform without Public Option

After reports suggested that the Obama administration would relent and give up on a public option provision in a health care reform bill, NBC medical editor Nancy Snyderman sided with Democrat Howard Dean on behalf of public option.

Snyderman appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Aug. 17 to discuss the shift in debate. Host Joe Scarborough kicked off the segment by asking, “So do you agree with Howard Dean that health care reform bill without a public option is not health care reform at all?”

“Yes.” Snyderman’s replied immediately. “Because we’ve gotten derailed it’s all about access and spending more money and sort of balancing the budget -- the health care budget. There are two things I think we forgot to talk about. And that is not just people who don’t have any insurance, but the underinsured.”

Snydermann (who contributed a total of $800 to Democratic congressional candidates between jobs at ABC and NBC) continued by suggesting how the White House could have framed the debate: “Here’s what I think the White House could have done and we would be looking at a very different argument. What if you said for all of you here who have your insurance you’re fine. But for people who don’t have anything or they’ve lost theirs why not be able to buy into something like Medicare?”

Scarborough argued that the public option would not result in more competition and asked Fortune magazine’s managing editor Andy Serwer to respond. Serwer also sided against the free market.

“But you have to look at the system right now and ask yourself is it working? And I think the answer is increasingly, ‘No.’ So that’s number one. And there is a role for government. We know that in various parts of our economy. And if our private sector is not taking care of business …” Serwer said before Scarborough interrupted.

“All I’m focusing on here is the word ‘competition.’ This is actually not about competition. This is about changing the rules and saying, ‘OK, we’re not going to have competition in the free marketplace. We’re going to set up this new system,” Scarborough said.

Serwer admitted that government competition “is sort of an oxymoron, because the government’s always going to win in that game.” But that didn’t bother him. “On the other hand, I mean, do we really care?” he concluded. “Don’t we just wanna provide great health care to Americans?”

However, town hall meetings across the country in August showed that many people are afraid of government intrusion and unintended consequences.

Snyderman and Serwer are not the only journalists championing government-run health care reform. A recent Special Report from the Business & Media Institute found that network stories on health care favored ObamaCare in several ways: proponents outnumbered critics (243 to 104), complaints about the trillion or higher cost were only mentioned 9 percent of the time, and reporters failed to point out that one public insurance program (Medicare) is heading toward an “explosive fiscal situation.”


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