Ask Bing

I have a question about the Public Option, which still could become part of the reform legislation being drafted in the senate.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, said that the Senate "comfortably" has a majority of votes to pass the public plan, and that he believes Democrats can muster 60 votes to break a filibuster.
While Senator Harkin's claim may be a bit of an exaggeration, we still need to figure out why liberals are so committed to the Public Option. They tried, on Tuesday, but couldn't get an amendment added to the bill.
After an amendment offered by Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) was voted down 15 to 8, the committee voted 13 to 10 to reject a second public-option provision introduced by Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). The committee chairman, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), voted against both politically volatile amendments, saying he feared that a bill including either one would not get the 60 votes it would need for passage by the full Senate.
Ready for my question? What service does a Public Option offer that private insurers wouldn't if they are both required to follow the same rules?
While Democrats hold a majority on the committee, the legislation advanced by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., omitted the so-called public option. Moderate Democrats on and off the committee oppose it, and Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, the Republican seen as most likely to support the bill, has also spoken against it.
Consider the case of Bing Perrine, a young man with a heart condition who didn't have a health insurance plan when he collapsed with a congenital heart condition. He says he was denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition, and in a new ad, argues in favor of the Public Option.
"None of this debt would have piled up if I'd had the option to buy into a public health insurance plan."
If insurance regulations were to require the acceptance of all applicants without regard for their health on the day they applied, just as they do for car insurance, for example, how would Bing be any worse off without a government plan?
For example, the Baucus plan would bar private insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing health problems and create nonprofit co-ops to compete with the industry. Matsdorf said that would achieve the same result public plan supporters are seeking and "prevent (Perrine's) situation from ever happening again."
And if all private insurers are required to follow the same rules as the government plan, then the only purpose for the government plan would be to, as Democrats like to say, "keep the private insurers honest." Which means to undercut them and drive them out of business. Single Payer. Am I wrong? So what about the Harkin claim that the votes exist to pass the PO? The following paragraph also appears in the story, which seems to contradict his claim.
"I have polled senators, and the vast majority of Democrats — maybe approaching 50 — support a public option," Harkin said told the liberal "Bill Press Radio Show." "So why shouldn't we have a public option? We have the votes.
Approaching 50 doesn't seem like 51. But, Harkins apparent attempt to pump up morale on his side is a good reminder to remain vigilant in the face of the forces of darkness.