The nation’s for profit health insurers are out to scuttle anything within the Obama health care plan that might be in any way public.

One week after the insurance lobby pledged to voluntarily constrain rising costs, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is preparing a public message campaign aimed at killing the public non-profit part of Obama’s reform plan.

Anyone who’s been watching has heard the data that have the insurance profiteers so scared. A government-run plan, with no need for profits for Wall Street or bonuses to retain CEOs — a plan run only to deliver healthcare for the public —  would cut the cost of healthcare. Period. Single payer advocates say that’s the only way to go but Obama’s still offering a compromise: a bit of both.

According to the Washington Post, as part of what it calls an "informational website," Blue Cross Blue Shield has hired an outside firm to make a series of videos to terrify the public about Obama’s so-called public option. In three 30-second videos, the insurer paints a picture of a future system in which patients wait months for appointments and can’t choose their own doctors.

One spot in the series shows a woman and child wandering down a darkened hospital doorway, "as if they’re starting to realize that they’ve lost their way," according to sketches of the video. "We can do a lot better than a government-run health care system," the narrator concludes.

The company’s tactics are familiar — remember the Harry and Louise ads? For profit-companies savaged Hillary Clinton’s reform plan. It’s right out of the right wing PR book: scare the public and lie about the facts. The fact is, Obama’s health care plan wouldn’t force anyone to choose the not-for-profit option.

But boy, how the insurers fear they might. Suddenly all those professed beliefs in free markets and competition are out the window. Profiteers don’t like that marketplace of competition with an option that’s non-profit.

What the private health care lobby understands that has them so frightened now is that public healthcare would preferable because it would likely be better and cheaper. Their fear just underscores the reality: it’s time to move beyond a sick system that’s rigged for profit to a public plan that’s actually about health. 

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders, author, and host of RadioNation on Air America Radio, has built a reputation for courageous investigative journalism coupled with compassion and a sense of humor. In writing her last book, Blue Grit, she traveled the country reporting on grassroots success stories and broadcast live to over 150 radio stations from community centers in places including Helena, Salt Lake City, New Orleans, Miami, Las Vegas, and Milwaukee. In her television appearances (Lou Dobbs, Larry King Live,) on radio and in her many books (including Bushwomen: Tales of a Cynical Species) and articles (The Nation and others,) Flanders calls for a new politics of fairness, equality and citizen action. Articulating the human dimension of American communities in trouble, her programs have become destinations for those seeking the skills and the will to make a difference. Flanders is a regular contributor to the Nation Magazine and CNN. Before joining Air America, where she was part of the original lineup, and hosted “The Laura Flanders Show” for three years, Flanders was the founding host of the award-winning “Your Call” weekday mornings on public radio, KALW in the Bay Area and CounterSpin, the radio show of the mediawatch group, FAIR.