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Mark J. Koenig

Healthcare Co-ops: Lame leftist head-fake.

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Posted on August 19 2009 3:00 am
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I’ve never had much regard for industry jargon, as in my experience it’s invariably invoked for one of three equally-indefensible reasons:  1) Simple laziness on the part of the speaker;  2) As a way of signifying membership in an exclusive club of “insiders”;  3) As a deliberate attempt to mislead or obfuscate.  I’ve always believed that when one’s goal is to explain a process or a structure, plain language is always preferable to specialized jargon. Certainly in the context of speaking to a general audience, I’d be hard-pressed to be persuaded otherwise.

It was therefore refreshing to hear Judge Andrew Napolitano, guest-hosting for Glenn Beck last night, simultaneously express disdain for, and ask for clarification of, the nebulous term “health-care co-op,” which has been bandied about as an alternative to “the public option”  by Obama administration insiders and congressional Democrats alike beginning this past weekend.

Judge Napolitano’s guest for this segment was Michael Cannon, Director of Health Policy Studies at the Cato Institute.  After showing a clip of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius referring to these co-ops on CNN this past weekend, the judge asked Mr. Cannon what exactly she was talking about.  Cannon’s response was illuminating:

“What a cooperative means is that the members govern the health plan.  So the members are like stockholders, they elect the management team, they’re the ones who are in control.  But think about — if the government charters this new health plan — how many members are there going to be on day one?  Well, there aren’t going to be any.  So who’s going to be running this new program?  Well, the government’s going to be running this new program.  So in effect, it could be exactly the same program as the house Democrats want to see.  It could be Medicare for people under age 65, we’re just calling it a co-op. We just re-named it because we think that will sell with some moderates in the Senate.”

Now really, just how stupid does this administration think the public is?  Do they seriously think that a simple change in terminology is going to fool people into believing that they’re actually in favor of increased competition in the healthcare marketplace?  As Michael Cannon correctly pointed out, nothing could actually be further from the truth:

“If you look at the rest of the bill, at the regulations he (Obama) wants to impose on private insurers, those are going to eliminate almost all of the low-cost options, health-insurance options that are on the market now, AND the more comprehensive options that are available on the market now, so most Americans are going to have to give up the health plans that they have and like right now, and we’re all going to be marched into a narrow range of plans, or maybe a one-size-fits-all plan, and that’s just in the private sector.  That’s BEFORE any new government program takes hold and starts pulling people away.  I think that choice and competition is the last thing that this administration wants.”

It’s the same tired old central command and control scenario that every leftist utopian craves.  A cynical head-fake designed to fool the American public into accepting a scheme in which the end result will be a single-payer government-run healthcare system.  As Judge Napolitano succinctly put it:

“You CAN’T compete with the government! The government owns the stadium, the government lines the field, the government is the other team, and the government is the umpires.  So, the government will tilt the playing field to favor itself, or to favor its patrons – it’s impossible to successfully compete with it.  So the government will drive private insurers out of business.”

The very notion of increasing competition and choice by introducing a player into the marketplace that by it’s very design has the deck stacked in its favor and is allowed to make up its own rules, simply defies logic.  This is no time for advocates of free markets to let down their guard.  The left continues to demonstrate that it is willing to accept incremental victories in pursuit of its ultimate goal.  Don’t be fooled.

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