Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New Name, Same Old "Public Plan"

The so-called "public plan" is not dead yet.

Politicians have merely changed its name, as Michael Tanner explains in his piece in the July 30, 2009 New York Post. Referring to the Senate "compromise" proposal, he writes:
...[I]nstead of a government-run "public option," it would set up a nationwide health-insurance co-op.

Now, if this was really going to be a co-op like rural electrical co-ops or your local health-food store -- owned and controlled by its workers and the people who use its services -- it would be a meaningless but harmless diversion. America already has some 1,300 insurance companies, so it's hard to see what one more would add, but it would be unlikely to do much harm.

But these aren't true co-ops. The members wouldn't choose its officers -- the president would. Plus, the secretary of Health and Human Services would have to approve its business plan, and thus could force it to offer whatever benefits, premiums and reimbursement schedules Washington wants. Finally, the federal government would provide start up, and possibly ongoing, subsidies.

A "co-op" run by the federal government, under rules imposed by the federal government and with federal funding is simply government-run health insurance by another name.

Or, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid put it, "We're going to have some type of public option, call it 'co-op,' call it what you want."
(Full text of "Senate Deal: Change A Few Names").

Rebranding a bad ideas under a different name is an old politicians' trick. Will Americans see through this charade?