It has become obvious over the last few months that an overheal of the nation's health care system won't be easy. Powerful lobbyists representing the affected industries are hard at work, as a recent story from NPR highlighted. The most controversial aspect of most reform plans is the "public option": a Medicare-like government insurance program that would operate alongside (and ultimately compete with) private insurance companies.
The New York Times reported yesterday that President Obama may be willing to consider other alternatives (publicly-owned insurance co-ops, for example), and that revelation has made some in the President's party bitterly unhappy. "Without a public option," Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold said, "I don't see how we will bring real change to a system that has made good health care a privilege for those who can afford it."
One thing is certain: the status quo won't work in the long term. Ultimately, we must address the underlying causes of our unhealthiness (obesity, diabetes, and poor preventive care). Employee wellness programs are part of the solution, and I hope that message isn't lost during the debate in Washington.
What is the mood in your community? Do your friends and neighbors favor a public option, or are they opposed? I'd love to hear your views.