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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Small Biz Health Care Daily: The Public Option Never Went Away

A variety of media reports have noted that the “public option” in health care reform is back in the debate.

The Hill, for example, reported on September 29 that New York Senator Charles Schumer has led the charge:

Schumer has become the Senate’s most outspoken advocate for a government-run health insurance plan, investing significant political capital in the proposal. While that may have seemed a losing bet a month ago, the political odds have shifted in recent weeks.

Though an effort to include the public option in the Finance Committee’s health reform package is expected to fall short, proponents say it will garner enough support among panel Democrats to affect the bill that reaches the Senate floor.

“Just bringing it up in the Finance Committee at all has revitalized the push for the public plan, and its chances only get better from here going forward,” said Schumer spokesman Brian Fallon.

In the truest sense, however, the so-called “public option” never went away. This entire effort amounts to a “public option.” It is focused on getting government more involved in health care, including through more regulations and mandates; increased funding; and expanded programs. Those measures will help to drive up costs even faster and further. Throw in a new government-run plan, and the cost story promises only to get worse – certainly not better, as advocates claim.

The entire health care cost debate – and therefore the access to coverage debate – always and ultimately comes back to who is footing the bill. When government pays, costs inevitably rise as consumers and providers have no incentive to care about prices and utilization, while there are no incentives in government to control costs, as politicians and their appointees are spending other people’s money.

With government expanding its role in health care, it’s inevitably about increased costs, and sooner or later, rationing of care.

Raymond J. Keating
Chief Economist
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

1 comment:

john gordon said...

My concern with this health care reform, as an Independent, is that it’s all over the place, there are not enough specifics and it must be put into writing and as if “written in stone” so that not every illegal that comes to the US will get free healthcare and those that work hard all their citizen life in US pay for every “Tom, Dick and Harry”