Commentary: Health care opt-out option makes no sense

There are a lot of ideas being floated as supporters look for a way to get health care legislation through the Senate — some good, some not so good.

One is entirely unacceptable: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's state opt-out provision for the so-called public option.

We would find such a plan objectionable even if our General Assembly were not likely to be among the first in line to try to opt out of the provision that has become one of the chief targets of Republican opposition.

That's not because we are convinced that the public option is essential to health reform. The idea behind the public option - an uneasy compromise between Democrats who wanted a Medicare-style single-payer system and those who wanted to maintain the private insurance system - was to help contain costs. That's something that pretty much everyone agrees is essential, whether the government gets more involved or not. Or at least they agree until the cost-containment measures start to affect them personally or (in the case of politicians) until they see it to their political advantage to say otherwise. Frankly, we'd be better off if the Congress would focus on more direct ways to contain costs, by actually reforming the delivery of health care; clearly this can be done, as the list is long of countries that spend less per capita and have much better health outcomes than the United States.

Rather, we object to a state opt-out because such a central component of such a significant piece of legislation needs to apply to the whole nation - or not at all. That's something we should have figured out by now.

To read the complete editorial, visit The State (Columbia, S.C.).