The Obama administration's offer to drop a Medicare-like health insurance option for Americans under age 65 is neither a surprise nor a comfort, because it does nothing to change the administration's dangerous plan for health reform. Rather, it is a tactic designed to change the debate – one that fits nicely within the administration’s broader strategy of deception.
On Sunday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that a new government program modeled on Medicare is “not the essential element” of reform, and that the president is open to a government-chartered “co-operative.”
It was inevitable that the administration would back away from a new Medicare-like program, the demands of left-wing House Democrats notwithstanding. For weeks, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) has been telling the world that such a program would never pass the Senate: "There are not the votes in the Senate for the 'public option,'" Conrad recently told Fox News Sunday. "There never have been." The only question was when the president would distance himself from the idea.
President Obama chose this moment because he is losing the debate on health reform, and he needs to change the subject. The administration no doubt hopes that the conversation will be about how the president has moderated his approach to health reform.