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Bait-and-Switch: The Stealth Public Option

Posted on December 10 2009 12:19 pm
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While bragging last night on “The O’Reilly Factor” how right he was that the public option may end up being dropped after all, O’Reilly lost sight of the bigger picture.  The back-room alternative devised by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and a small coterie of liberal and moderate senators imposes government control in another guise.  It’s a last-ditch effort to push Obamacare through the Senate.  But the alternative plan may even be worse than the original government-provided health insurance option, as hard to believe as that is. 

Of course, we don’t know for sure, since Reid is concealing the details from us.  But ignorance doesn’t bother the Democrats.  Here is what Senator Bob Casey, Democrat of Pennsylvania, had to say:

Any big agreement is progress.  Even if we do not know any of the details.

The alternative plan would significantly expand coverage under Medicare and Medicaid – the two current government-controlled health insurance programs that are on the brink of bankruptcy.   There will be more people searching for the fewer and fewer doctors who are willing to stay in these programs as their reimbursements drop even further below standard private insurance levels.

The alternative plan would also give the U.S. Office of Personnel Management a new mandate.  This government agency would negotiate with a number of private insurance companies and then manage the policies they offer under typical government bureaucratic rules.  This is the same government agency that runs the Federal Employees Health Benefit program for members of Congress and government workers – a program in which premiums are rising faster than those for the average market private insurance policies available in the free market.  Nearly 100,000 federal employees have rushed for the exits.

Finally, whether or not an explicit government-run health insurance option ends up in the final bill or not, government control is inherent in the entire structure of Obamacare.  It’s all about top-down rationing.

For example, the mortality rate after a hip fracture is estimated to be 11-23% at 6 months and 22-29% at 1 year from injury.   Relying on expert advisory boards named in the health care legislation to determine whether a procedure is medically appropriate based on age and other statistically relevant factors,  Obamacare will lead to denial of insurance coverage for an elderly person whom a government advisory board determines is within a statistical group that has a higher probability of dying from other causes within 1 to 5 years.

Reid’s alternative does nothing to fix this and is nothing more than a cynical game of bait-and-switch.

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