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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Small Biz Health Care Daily: The New Old Public Option

Democrats in the U.S. Senate are still trying to find ways to disguise a government health care plan so it can garner enough votes.

Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) leads the latest effort. described it this way:

He says his aim is to address criticisms from lawmakers like Lieberman and Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) that the public option is “government-run, government-funded” by putting an outside body in charge and creating a firewall between the program and the Treasury. But this public option would be a national entity, not a collection of state plans, which is a demand of liberals.

“The hammer,” as Carper calls it, shares traits with Snowe’s proposal to trigger a public option in states where private insurers do not meet established benchmarks for availability and affordability. It also jibes with Schumer’s “level-playing field” public option — the version already in the bill — because the plan must be financially self-sustaining. And the plan would be governed by a not-for-profit board, an idea similar to the healthcare cooperatives added to the bill by Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.).

Whatever the Carper plan winds up looking like, the endpoint remains the same – government would be running its own health care plan; would be raising costs for private insurers through more regulations, mandates and taxes; and would either explicitly or tacitly have the backing of federal taxpayers (keep Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in mind, as well as Medicare and Medicaid).

And the final goal remains the same. report explains it this way:

The public option traces its history to the political left’s holy grail for healthcare: the creation of a centralized, government-run, single-payer healthcare system that would replace the private health insurance industry. Though the single-payer proposal continues to enjoy support within the Democratic Party, leaders from President Barack Obama on down made an early political calculation that it would never pass muster within the diverse ranks of the party’s caucuses in Congress.

Indeed. A public option – no matter how it is presented – pushes the nation ever closer to socialized medicine, and all of the ills – both high taxpayer costs and diminished quality of care – that go with government care.

Raymond J. Keating
Chief Economist
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

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