Monday, October 26, 2009
Health Care Update: The Name Game
A government-sponsored "public option" for health care lives, though it may be more attractive to skeptics if it goes by a different moniker, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday.
In an appearance at a Florida senior center, the Democratic leader referred to the so-called public option as "the consumer option." Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., appeared by Pelosi's side and used the term "competitive option."
Both suggested new terminology might get them past any lingering doubts among the public—or consumers or competitors.
"You'll hear everyone say, 'There's got to be a better name for this,'" Pelosi said. "When people think of the public option, public is being misrepresented, that this is being paid for with their public dollars."
Pelosi said that was a misconception and that any taxpayer money used to start up the public option would be repaid. She also said such an option would ultimately drive down government health care costs.
The speaker said the "competitive option" idea emerged during her closed-door roundtable at the Sunrise Senior Center with advocates of seniors and others who work with older populations. Wasserman Schultz suggested the term might be here to stay.
"I think she's going to go up and test-drive it when she goes back to Washington," Wasserman Schultz said. "It might stick."
As for having the votes to pass such a measure, both women said a public option would survive. They wouldn't get into numbers of congressional supporters, but said it was simply a matter of picking which type of public option to pursue.