The public option died because it could have had the effect of driving health insurance companies out of business. Unless enough people like me paid extra for private insurance, the insurance industry would simply have to move on. There are many people out there who would see the demise of HMO's as a good thing. But I think that this administration probably realized that it isn't ready to become the sole provider of healthcare to an obese nation.
We should give health care co-op's a shot. Unlike a business, a co-op does not seek to make a profit; unlike a government, it cannot run on a deficit indefinitely or print its own money. Plus, you are free to leave a co-op at any time. To switch health insurance companies, you often have to get a different job. To switch governments, you pretty much have to move. A co-op measures its success solely by the quality of service that it provides to its members, and can continue to operate effectively no matter who wins Ohio and Florida in 2012.
The best way that Congress can move this along is to make all health insurance payments tax deductible. As things stand now, a company health plan is tax deductible, but a individual health plan is not.