No public option in health-care proposal?

With last week’s vote by the Senate Finance Committee, the likelihood Congress will pass some form of health-care reform keeps growing. How did the Democrat-controlled committee do? Not bad.

        The most recent version might well be the leading contender because for the first time it received support from a Republican, Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe. Not surprisingly, the version is less liberal than proposals that have passed in the U.S. House.

        Most notable is the Finance Committee opted against a so-called “public option,” or government-sponsored health insurance. And for good reason: The private insurance market can do the job. Consider Michigan’s requirement that drivers carry auto insurance. It is a government mandate, but private companies administer the plans. The legislation takes a less-promising approach to getting people covered. On the positive side, it would create co-ops that give people more buying power to get health plans.

        Less encouraging is it still allows healthy individuals to go without coverage. The legitimate worry is these people will be able to work the system. They could avoid the expense of insurance, but would be allowed to buy coverage if they develop a major illness.

        The public option still could make its way into a final version of legislation, expected to be taken up this fall. Other changes will take place, too, as Senate leaders negotiate a compromise bill behind closed doors. The public should be concerned with this process and the haste that Congress is bringing to it. But at least if reform becomes law, it should hew closer to what the Senate Finance Committee approved.