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  • Morning Bell: The Public Option Is Neither Public, Nor An Option

    When Mike Myers’ Linda Richman character would get a “little faklempt” on the Saturday Night Live skit Coffee Talk, she would give the audience a topic to discuss while she composed herself, like: “The Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire. Discuss.” If Linda were still hosting her show today, she could as accurately say about today’s health care debate: “The public option is neither public, nor an option.” Let’s discuss.

    For the leftist base of the Congressional majority, the creation of a government-run health insurance company has been the defining issue of the health care debate. So, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has explained numerous times that: “The thinking on the public option has been that it gives consumers more choices and it helps keep the private sector honest because there’s some competition out there.” But is this true? Would the public have more choices if a government run health insurance company was created?

    Five different organizations and offices have made predictions of how many Americans could end up enrolled in the public option, including: The Lewin Group, the Congressional Budget Office, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Urban Institute, and Health Systems Innovations Network. They all tell a similar story: the number of Americans that end up in the government run plan will greatly depend on who is allowed to buy into it, and how much they have to pay.

    The Lewin Group–an independent health care analysis firm–was the first to estimate the impact of creating such a new public plan, when University of California at Berkeley professor of political science Jacob Hacker worked with them to create a model health plan for the Economic Policy Institute. The left loved the numbers Lewin produced for Hacker’s plan, but they immediately turned on Lewin and began attacking its credibility once Lewin analyzed the actual legislation in the House.

    What so angered the left was Lewin’s finding that if the government-run plan were open to all employers, 103.4 million Americans would find themselves with government run insurance, including 88.1 million Americans who would lose their current employer-sponsored private coverage. What angered the left so much about this finding was that it exposed the fact that there is very little “optional” about the public option. Those 88.1 million Americans would not be the ones choosing the public plan. Instead, it would be their employers who decided to discontinue their current private coverage, leaving the 88.1 million Americans no choice but to enroll in the government plan.

    The latest version of Obamacare in the House “fixes” this problem by severely limiting who the government can enroll in the government plan. Under the new bill, only employers with 25 employees or fewer are allowed to enroll in the plan in year one (2013), in year two (2014) individuals and employers with 50 employees or fewer become eligible, and in year three (2015) employers with at least 100 employees become eligible. In other words, the vast majority of Americans will not be eligible to enroll in the allegedly “public” plan. Worse still, even the poorest Americans are specifically denied access to the new government plan. The bill does expand Medicaid eligibility to 150% FPL but it also appears to deny access to those who are “eligible” for Medicaid. This simply gives the false impression that poor people will get a choice of better care under this bill. The reality is all they get is a chance to join the substandard government-run Medicaid plan.

    With these restrictions, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that under the current bill (H.R. 3962) only 6 million people would enroll in the government plan. The Lewin Group has not analyzed H.R. 3962, but did estimate earlier that if a public plan was only open to employers with no more than 20 employees, 21 million people would enroll. The difference between the two numbers comes largely from the fact that the CBO estimates that the public plan would have higher, not lower, premiums than private plans.

    Since the left in Congress has chosen to make the public option the defining issue of the health care debate, millions of Americans are set to be sorely disappointed if Obamacare passes and they suddenly learn that they are not eligible for the so-called public option they have been sold. The scariest part of Obamacare, however, is that the legislation also empowers the new Health Czar to unilaterally rewrite the regulations so that the public option can turn into President Barack Obama’s dream of  “Everybody in, Nobody out” government run health care.

    Quick Hits:

    • The Obama administration’s thoroughly “scrubbed” stimulus jobs report includes a $26,174 project that purportedly created 450 jobs.
    • The Obama administration said yesterday that Commerce Secretary Gary Locke was “imprecise” when he said President Barack Obama’s advisers are considering a second stimulus.
    • Despite their anti-lobbyist rhetoric, the Obama administration has been infiltrated by dozens of Obama for America National Finance Committee members who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the campaign, according to the watchdog group the Center for Responsive Politics.
    • It will only cost you $30,400 to dine with five U.S. Senators, Wednesday, at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s Women’s Senate Network party, thrown by power lobbyist Heather Podesta.
    • Hospitals in New York City and other urban areas are the primary targets of Medicare cuts that help pay for Obamacare.
    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    24 Responses to Morning Bell: The Public Option Is Neither Public, Nor An Option

    1. Jonathan Seid, Willi says:

      Refuse to vote for the incumbent.

      Simplistic responses such as" not voting" for these legislators work.

      Not getting re-elected is the fear career politicians have bad dreams about.

      Know why? It's effective.

      Evidently voters like what they are getting from Congress…they continue to send the incumbent back to Washington.

    2. Eric, North Carolina says:

      "Since the left in Congress has chosen to make the public option the defining issue of the health care debate, millions of Americans are set to be sorely disappointed if Obamacare passes and they suddenly learn that they are not eligible for the so-called public option they have been sold."

      Since most folks won't start to be affected for several years (2013-2015), they won't be concerned before the 2012 election cycle. And that's all that counts, right? By then, of course, the conservative journalists and pundits will have been muzzled anyway.

    3. Jeanne Stotler, Wood says:

      This administration is all smoke and mirrors, the only thing is the majority of us are not near sighted and see through his rhetoric.

    4. J.C. Hughes, Texas says:

      What part of federal governance does the current congressional leadership and administration not understand? This whole damned public healthcare option doesn't belong at their level. Such is clearly a state and local matter. This federal overreach needs to be brought before the U.S. Supreme Court. They're our last best hope to right this continuing wrong. The U.S. government's strong arming itself into private markets is antithetical to the whole concept of federalism. The majority Democrats' efforts continue to be totally unnecessary and improper. The 2010 election is not arriving soon enough.

    5. sherry burdette says:

      It's true…the 'public option' is neither a real option, nor is it up for public consideration.

      Sherry333

    6. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      One more time! Obamacare is not about "health". It's about "power". The American people are beginning to recognize this truth. Whether it's Obama, Reid, Pelosi, or any other socialist in Washington, they will lie, cheat, and/or do anything they must do to get their agenda forced down our throats. It's the only way. That's what

      communist do.

    7. Ozzy6900, CT says:

      The disturbing point is that the Incumbents are not listening to the People but just doing as they please. It is time to make our voices heard loud and clear on Election Day!

    8. Catherine S., Michig says:

      My husband has not worked in Michigan since the summer of '06. He has worked from Little Rock to Quincy, IL. It is extremly hard to find Doctors who will accept our insurance. Solution, we pay cash and don't use the insurance. Cash is KING for Doctors and prescriptions. We have coverage for major problems but pay cash for everything else. By not using insurance but CASH we have saved money. This is no joke. Simple prescriptions way cheeper paying cash than our deductable. We have negotiated all of our medical expenses with doctors for years, free samples for some prescriptions. By choosing to pay cash (we are not rich by any means) we have actually saved money. Get D.C. out of my way, Americans and their doctors can take care of business. Help those who will not or can't help themselves.

    9. jim smith says:

      Think about this: Most ballots have propositions included, which usually are some form of spending that is masked in mumbo-jumbo "hack rhetoric". Voters should bypass these issues as our legislators are no longer qualified to manage these initiatives or anything else that requires prudent review and evaluation. 2009 is the real deal for voters who are interested in saving our country from Islamo-Fascist destruction.

    10. Jim says:

      WE'RE NOT SENDING THEM BACK IN 2010. THEY ARE ALL

      O U T !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    11. JOHN PAUL JONES, M.D says:

      If you want to see what will happen to private health plans, revisit what happened to Commonwealth and Southern( run by Wilkie) when the TVA was established. Obama has FDR's playbook.

    12. Richard Cancemi, Arl says:

      Washington = Lies, lies, and more lies!

      Everyone in office needs to have a bar of soap stuck in their mouths!

      Let's start with Obama, Pelosi and Reid and go on from there.

    13. Allan, Florida says:

      This is from the Washington Post:

      "Generally left unsaid amid all the citations is that the Lewin Group is wholly owned by UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation's largest insurers.

      More specifically, the Lewin Group is part of Ingenix, a UnitedHealth subsidiary that was accused by the New York attorney general and the American Medical Association of helping insurers shift medical expenses to consumers by distributing skewed data. Ingenix supplied UnitedHealth and other insurers with data that allegedly understated the "reasonable and customary" doctor fees that insurers use to determine how much they will reimburse consumers for out-of-network care"

      So, is the Lewin Group as independent as you claim?

    14. Corky says:

      They don't care to listen to the MAJORITY of the PEOPLE and continue doing something that is contrary to the CONSTITUTION. If it passes, I am sure, there will be Patriotic upsurge that will get very ugly. Are you listening Congress. WE the PEOPLE DO NOT WANT YOU IN OUR HEALTHCARE! Back off and let the States take over………..

    15. Leon, Durango, CO says:

      I don't like Psychiatry getting parity with regular medical doctoring, so Junk Science meant to socialize, and wreck your brains can be done at unlimited public expense. For example, say your Democratic friends think you are nuts (you believe in God, or your divine spirit), then they can turn you in and police come through your door and haul you away for "free medical care" ala Psychiatry. That is Electro Convulsive 'Therapy' and Psychoactive drugs (guaranteed to make you crazy). How easy it will be to eliminate political opponents then.

      I need to say more about the abuse of Statistics. It is and has been used to support Liberal Fascism. Statistics is indispensable in Thought Crime legislation (traffic law, drug law, sex law, etc. etc.) AND it is a source of Medical Malpractice. I've said people use Statistics as a substitute for analysis, THEY have supplanted analysis! Now our professionals can spit up baloney and never know it. They do perfectly what they've been trained to do, but guess what? Statistics cannot fill the shoes of analysis. Global Warming doesn't exist, Spirit does exist. But now people with "answers" quit searching. Wrong answers perpetuate themselves.

      Doctors use Statistics to practice Defensive Medicine. By definition that is malpractice, ie. doing harm. The government doesn't protect them from idiots, tort reform. But now as we socialize Medicine nothing sensible is allowed in the Bill. The government takes so much tax that the doctors have to over charge, ie. do harm. The government gets paid to look the other way while Plutocrats exploit our Doctors and our People for obscene profits. Macabre profits! Look at the American way of death. The priestly doctors clean us out at the end of our lives like thieves. That is harm. They want to take us for everything, EVERY THING we worked all our lives for, and nothing for our heirs. All in the futile efforts, don't they know death is inevitable? It comforts us to know we are spiritual beings who HAVE bodies, but see, officially that makes me insane according to the Medical establishment after the Parity of Psychiatry in these Bills.

      The "Democrats" (actually Communists) are writing us into a new Meat Grinder. They just call it Medicine.

    16. Dean-Texas/Alaska says:

      Not about "health" care, never was. It is about class warfare, innate hatred of those who feel inferior, and want what they see as retribution(revenge). Even if it means their own eventual destruction. They imagine they will have something if they can control the means of production, but just like all the other totalitarian take overs of free markets, only the most vicious will prosper, the thugs the dictators. Welcome to the era of Mugabe, Chavez, Obama.. But not for long, the long sleeping Dragon is stirring in the East.

    17. Lynn B. DeSpain says:

      It is neither Health nor Care. It is a mandate for the death of the Baby Boomers, the Socialzation of the entire American Working Class, and through the faux Swine Flu innoculations, children growing up Sterile.

      Remember, it was not Mussolini nor Hitler that rose to Power, it was the people who placed them there.

    18. Pingback: Some Liberals Still Fighting To Strengthen House Bill’s Public Option – Blog Watch

    19. Pingback: Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009 Updating… 5:17 AM «

    20. Ron, Derry NH says:

      This is what FASCISM looks like.

      False rhetoric to instill the foundation of a government take over of the private sector.

      And people have always asked, How could the educated and fairly bright nation of Germans in 1930 have fallen for such socialist garbage to destroy their once proud nation at the hands of an obvious fascist dictator, with delusions of grandeaur?

      I think we are experiencing that answer.

      The only difference is we have a number of delusionist's at the helm, Pelosi is just one of many in the Democrat party willing to sacrifice America to their idealism and goal of servitude to the state, since they so aptly broke the bank.

      This is a Socialist Party take over and forced mandate to the state. The very state that wrote the laws that formed the instability in financial institutions that were burdened with social mandates forcing financial risk upon even the most frugal institutions.

      Th every state that lied to protect Fannie Mae, the very state that repealed the Glass/Steagal act giving banks more power and allowing more risk.

      The very state that pays an organization, acorn to harass lending institutes to risk capital on bad risk homes and people.

      This very state, that has allowed the printing of money to reduce the value of every American to protect its mistake, is now promising to gradually destroy capitalism with a generous but slow upheaval of private enterprise that they claim will do no harm???

      Like everything else they have done, we can trust them in only one way; that they will destroy America to protect themselves and their privileged existence over us.

    21. John Lloyd Scharf, S says:

      If health care is the problem, insurance is not the cause and government is not the answer.

      Of those "50 million," that lack insurance there were 45,000 who died without health care. With health care, 98,000 died FROM health care because of malpractice.

      The question is do we want to trust that largest corporation in the world, the U.S. Government.

      Do not expect house calls anytime soon.

      We have seen how well the government delivers on its promises and its bureaucracies pursue the money without giving us benefits on so many levels. Imagine another organ of the government that only ultimately must listen to the Secretary of the Treasury – another "service" of which is the IRS.

      http://theprogressivecapitalist.blogspot.com/2009

      That blog of mine above has several .pdf connections (HR. 3962 and two summaries, a few videos, and page references for new taxes and other mandates). If you cannot use the link, google "Progressive Capitalist H.R. 3962."

      If you believe the promises of this bill, you have to deal with the lie that it fosters competition with a government option called the "Public Option" and establishes the government as a monopoly making its own rules.

      Don't worry. You'll run out of "rich" soon enough. We have at least a$12 trillion economy of which at least $1.8 trillion is spent on health care. If you read the bill, there are plenty of opportunities to soak the middle class, if you do not mind the 1.6 million made jobless.

    22. Bobbie Jay says:

      This isn't freedom of choice! this is force. FORCED CORRUPTION DOWN OUR THROATS!

    23. Gary G. Thompson says:

      Although there are dozens of problems with this Health Care Plan as well as the last one,it really does come down to one thing. If it's so great a plan for the public,why can't Congress get on board and enroll themselves as well? End of topic.

      There is something hidden in this thing that will make our politicians richer than they ever dreamed possible AND they DON"T HAVE TO BE BURDENED BY THE "CLUNKER" WHEN THEY ALREADY HAVE THE BEST THERE IS!!!

    24. Pingback: Health Care Hoops Video: A Flagrant Foul Committed By the Public Option | Fix Health Care Policy

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