C'mon, Paul. You must know your latest column isn't all true, and what's true is nothing like the whole truth. Do you really believe we can fix it later?
What would work?
Wrong question. The right question is what does work. To answer that question, we might look at systems that pay at most half what we pay per capita, and all of which have better health outcomes: Canada (single payer). France (like single payer). The UK (socialized medicine). Taiwan (single payer). And so forth. Why aren't we doing that? More importantly, why weren't you building the case for it?
By all means, let’s ban discrimination on the basis of medical history — but we also have to keep healthy people in the risk pool, which means requiring that people purchase insurance.
Wrong. It doesn't "require" that. And if the experience of countries above is any guide, keeping healthy people in the risk pool might require abolishing insurance companies entirely ("Everybody in, nobody out"). The real question is Anthony Weiner's: What value do the insurance companies add to the transaction? None of the defenders of our murderous system of health "care" for profit have ever been able to answer that question. Not even you, Professor Krugman. So why are we bailing them out by guaranteeing them a market? Why isn't that part of the conversation? More importantly, Professor Krugman, why didn't you make it part of the conversation?
This, in turn, requires substantial aid to lower-income Americans so that they can afford coverage.
Wrong. See above; the reason is the same. Moreover, forms of "aid" "required" are very, very different. There's the "aid" supported by "progressives," where you've got to be poor enough to get covered, and lose enough assets, like your house. That would be Medicaid, which will also be under constant assault as a politically toxic welfare program; the "excise tax" is foretaste of the coming race to the bottom. Now, the "aid" "required" could have been Medicare, a true single payer program people support, progressively expanded to the entire population over time. Which do you support, Professor Krugman, and why? And if the good choice is not "politically feasible," why didn't you try to make it so?
And if you put all of that together, you end up with something very much like the health reform bills that have already passed both the House and the Senate.
"Something very much like."* Indeed. I can think more precise and evocative descriptions, but let that pass.
What about claims that these bills would force Americans into the clutches of greedy insurance companies?
Wrong. That's not a "claim." That's a fact. The mandate "forces," by definition, and the insurance companies are greedy, as shown by the "sky-high rate increases" that you mention a mere twelve paragraphs back. Worse than being wrong: Sloppy writing. I mean, if you're going to distort the position of your opponent, you should at least make sure the distortion isn't trivially easy to point out!
Well, the main answer is stronger regulation...
Wrong. The main answer is to eliminate the need to regulate insurance companies by eliminating them entirely. Why? Because otherwise they'll just game the system again, for example by using "wellness incentives" as a backdoor to reinstating pre-existing conditions. And guaranteeing the insurance companies a market, which is what the mandate does, just makes it easier for them to buy more congresscritters, regulators, and shills.
But it would also be a very good idea, politically as well as substantively, for the Senate to use reconciliation to put the public option back into its bill.
Wrong. If [a|the][strong|robust|triggered]? public [health insurance]? [option|plan] has ever been anything else than a marketing slogan, it is one now. Why? Because nobody knows what's in the bill Obama's cooking up!**
Who kidnapped Paul Krugman? Partial truths, false statements, bad writing... It's almost like he's turning into an access blogger!
NOTE * Very like, forsooth:
Ham. Do you see yonder cloud that ’s almost in shape of a camel?
Pol. By the mass, and ’t is like a camel, indeed.
Ham. Methinks it is like a weasel.
Pol. It is backed like a weasel.
Ham. Or like a whale?
Pol. Very like a whale.
When "message discipline" forces a formerly progressive firebrand like Krugman to channel Polonius, we know we're in a very bad way. What does the White House have on these guys?
NOTE ** Who knows? Maybe the words "public option" will be used. I'm sure "progressives" would trade, oh, women's rights for a few moments of semantic triumphalism. In a heartbeat! Because that's really, really gonna help when the next billing cycle comes round...
UPDATE Keeping the useless as tits-on-a-bull so-called "public option" firmly in place as the farthest left policy option in legitimate discourse (the Overton Window) is message discipline, so far as I'm concerned.