At Netroots Nation, this morning, I woke up after four hours of sleep to go hear Howard Dean on health care. As he has always done, he cut through all the narrative about health care with the precision of a doctor. There were three things he focused on:

First, for all the talk of seeking compromise on health care, we cannot forget that the public option is the compromise. The compromise is between single payer health care system like most of the industrialized world and the status quo. We cannot compromise away a strong, vibrant and viable public option. Without a public option available as a choice to Americans, insurance companies will not have the incentive to reduce cost. We must let Americans choose between a public and private options and change the system at the pace that they are comfortable with. The status quo is indefensible, and Americans want a choice. Politicians and their campaign contributors should not be making the choice for ordinary Americans. Individuals should be in charge of deciding what kind of health insurance they want.

For those who would oppose a public option, the question is whether they support the people who pay their salaries or the corporations who fill their campaign coffers to buy influence. We must ensure that our elected officials work for the benefit of ordinary people. The public option is a compromise, and no health care reform will be meaningful or successful for the people of this country without a strong public option.

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