Fox News host and conservative firebrand Eric Bolling proposed a health care alternative that bears striking resemblance to the public option, a government-issued insurance program that was originally considered as part of the health care reform law that was the target of his network.
On the February 11 edition of Fox's The Five, Bolling reacted to news that the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate was being delayed for some businesses by suggesting Republicans replace the ACA's mandate to purchase insurance with an optional government-issued alternative. Bolling said this plan would have the benefit of driving "all the prices down" in the health care market, and expressed puzzlement about "why the Republicans don't do this":
Bolling is right that a government-issued health care alternative would inject competition into the market and lower health care costs, but his suggestion that Republicans propose it is mystifying. In fact, that exact proposal, known as the public option, was originally included in but later removed from versions of what would later become the Affordable Care Act in both the House and Senate, and was attacked by Republicans like Sen. Orrin Hatch as "a Trojan horse for a single-payer system." In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Karl Rove, who would later become Bolling's colleague at Fox, claimed that "If Democrats enact a public-option health-insurance program, America is on the way to becoming a European-style welfare state."
Bolling's support for the plan is surprising for a number of reasons. First, he was clearly aware of the existence of the public option. During his tenure at Fox Business, he covered the proposal on the air, exploring Sen. Claire McCaskill's (D-MO) support for a version of the public option. Also his current network, Fox News, led opposition to the public option, even going so far as to direct its journalists to replace the phrase "public option" with "government option" or "government-run plan," phrases that were shown from a pollster to generate disapproval.
Bolling is one of Fox's most vocal critics of the Affordable Care Act, legislation that he has labeled a "socialist system" despite the fact that it involves significantly less government involvement than the plan he appeared to endorse.