Is Obama Retreating on 'Public Option'?

There was startling news out of the Obama camp over the weekend as Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on a Sunday talk show appeared to back away from the so-called public option being vital to their heath care plan.  Sebelius said it was “not the essential element” of Obamacare.

Are they really backing away from the crown jewel of the Democrats’ statist plan: government-run heath care?  

Not so fast.

The most important part of the Obama administration sales pitch on their “public option” has been to increase competition so price would come down. That’s what they tell us. Yet if that were really the aim of Democrats, they would break down the barriers that would allow the purchase of heath insurance across state lines, like your car insurance options.  

Democrats aren’t really interested in thousands of health insurance choices.  What they are interested in is control of every health care dollar spent in this country.  Instead of offering tax credits to the poor to purchase their own health insurance and making health insurance tax deductible for workers, Democrats have been demanding a “public option” that facilitates a government takeover of the entire heath care economy.

Watch what Democrats do, not what they say.

H.R. 3200, the 1,017-page bill passed out of the three committees of jurisdiction in the House, would create insurance exchanges run by the government through which all health insurance would have to be purchased by the year 2013.  

It is vital to understand the role of these co-ops when watch-dogging the White House and Congressional Democrats. They are merely changing terminology yet again in their attempt to cloak their plans for a government takeover of health care. A skunk by any other name is just as stinky.

These “exchanges” aren’t just places to buy insurance. They will have regulatory authority over what you can buy.

In H.R. 3200, the government would have the authority through these exchanges to approve the benefit levels and content of all health insurance plans in the country. If you like the insurance that you have and would like to keep it, you will be taxed 2.5% of your annual income if that plan is not approved as part of the exchange by government bureaucrats.  

If you keep your private insurance, it would not be allowed to change at all. For instance, if a newly-discovered cure for cancer hit the market, your insurance would not be allowed to cover it.  So if you were initially lucky enough to have a private insurance plan that these bureaucrats deigned to approve, and something were to change, your insurance plan would be null and void.  

Your insurance company would not be allowed to cover this new cancer treatment.  If you needed it, you would be forced into the government exchange.  So your private insurance that you liked so much before the bureaucrats got a hold of it would not be able to improve with medical advances and technology.  Again, keep in mind that after 2013, all new health insurance policies would have to be purchased through this government exchange.  It’s all about control.

The so-called co-op compromise that Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee are now pitching is a government-chartered exchange, funded by federal taxpayer dollars.  It’s being pitched as a solution to offer more competition, yet a series of quotes from prominent Democrats reveal that they view the co-op concept as merely another way to enact the “exchange” to facilitate a government takeover of health care:

“I think in theory you can imagine a co-operative meeting that definition [of a ‘public option’].” — President Obama, July 29, Time Magazine

“We’re going to have some type of public option, call it ‘co-op,’ call it what you want.”
— Senate Majority Leader Reid, July 10, Washington Post

“You could theoretically design a co-op plan that had the same attributes as a public plan.” — Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius, June 27, Bloomberg

“Chairman Baucus has asked me to sit down with [Sen.] Kent Conrad to see if we can use the co-op model to achieve the same goals as a public plan.” — Sen. Chuck Schumer, June 15, Roll Call

“We don’t care what it’s called. We need something that’s going to keep the insurance companies honest.” — Sen. Chuck Schumer, July 9, Fox News

“It will have, coming out of the House, a public option.  The only debate on that is what it will be called.” — Speaker Pelosi, July 13, Reuters

This next quote is particularly important, given Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.  He is the one responsible for “brokering” the so-called co-op compromise:

“The [co-op has] to be written in a way that accomplishes the objectives of a public option.” — Sen. Max Baucus, June 12, Politico

The objectives of the “public option” are exactly what the American people overwhelmingly object to: the government takeover of health care. The objectives have been exposed over the August break and at town hall meeting after town hall meeting through the reading aloud of H.R. 3200.  Since their elected Democrat representatives aren’t reading the bill, their constituents are reading it to them.

As formulated by Democrats, the “public option” is designed to force private insurance out of existence leaving in its place the single-payer system created and controlled by federal government bureaucrats.  As with every government-run health care system ever done throughout history, rationing and pulling the plug on grandma become a vital part as costs spin higher and out of control.

Democrat leaders consider the co-op merely a name change.

Further, for a good look an example of government intrusion into the private “too big to fail” markets, as would be the case with co-op exchanges in control of purchasing health insurance, I direct you to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both at the very heart of the unraveling of our economy last fall.  Congress would be creating yet another massive government-sponsored endeavor that would in both short term and long term result once again in significant taxpayer liabilities.

Instead of reducing health care costs, a co-op will more than likely do for America’s health care system what Fannie and Freddie have done for the housing sector.

Artificial government competition resulting in a takeover through coercion is not the answer.  Dropping government barriers to the purchase of health insurance across state lines would actually increase competition without a government takeover, co-op or otherwise.  

Instead, Democrats want to create Fannie Med.