We discuss the current healthcare debate. This is an excellent discussion with a premier liberal blogger who has really been all over this healthcare debate.

Last week, the Democrats and specifically those who have pushed healthcare reform were on the defensive. I think that they were overwhelmed by the ferocity and viciousness of those who do not want reform. There was a lot of activity at the end of last week with the progressive Democrats in the House clearly stating that they will not support any healthcare reform bill that does not have a “strong” public option. President Barack Obama, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Secretary Kathleen Sebelius seemed to back away from the public option over the weekend.

The leadership in the Senate is either confused or completely silent. Senator Max Baucus does not seem to reflect the mainstream Democratic Party. He seems to reflect the interests of big medical business. Senator Kent Conrad, also a major player in the health care debate, has come up with this idea of healthcare co-ops. I’ve written about co-ops on this blog before. Although we do not know all the details of how a co-op would work, it doesn’t seem that co-ops would help drive down prices and truly increase competition as they been billed.

I asked Joan about a couple of broad goals of healthcare reform which would be to control costs and to cover 46 million Americans who are currently uninsured. Joan points out how these two goals are interrelated. If the 46 million Americans were to have health insurance then they could go for preventative care, decreasing emergency room visits and costs. This is critical and I appreciate Joan for making this point.

We also discussed the fact that a strong public option, really single-payer, would make business more competitive. Small business becomes more competitive both in their local markets and also abroad because they don’t have to worry about the burden of providing health care for their workers. That cost is shared by all Americans.

This is a great conversation. Really, don’t miss this interview with Joan McCarter from the Daily Kos. Enjoy!