It appears that the public option may be temporarily dead. A new plan is being considered, one that appeals to moderates and might also corral liberals. The new idea is a national health insurance plan that will be designed along the lines of plans for federal workers. The plan would be administered the Office of Personnel Management, and it would rely on non-profit companies. Politico says that this plan is gaining momentum. A Democratic aide described it this way:
“The proposal under consideration can be said to provide access to the same type of insurance plans that members of Congress and federal employees get. People think of that as government health insurance; progressives could portray this in the same vein,” said a Democratic Senate aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the negotiations. “But moderates can simultaneously point to the fact that the government isn’t the payer and say competition was enhanced without growing the government.”
I am tempted to say: The government option is dead, long live government-run health care. The new plan, obviously cobbled together to pull in unsure Democrats, will still enlarge government. It won’t encourage competition because the government will be in control. Competition has become the new buzz word for those who really don’t care about the free market but can’t say so.
The best thing that can be said for the new plan is that it is vehemently opposed by Jacob Hacker, a Yale University professor who is considered the father of the public option. Hacker believes it abandons the public option and simply offers a new kind of insurance exchange, which is already in the bill.
On the minus side, Timothy Jost, a health-law expert at Washington and Lee University School of Law, has called it “the dumbest idea yet.” He noted that nonprofit insurance plans, which already dominate the insurance arena, haven’t brought down the cost of health insurance.
What we’re seeing is a disaster. All these plans are being put together to attract enough votes to get to the magic number of 60. They’re not being engineered to bring better care to the public. But Democrats can’t slow down because, if they do, the public will have more time to learn more about the legislation. The more the public knows, the more they don’t want it.