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  • Beware a Public Health Plan in Private Disguise

    In the ongoing attempts of Congress to find an alternative to the “public plan” in health reform, the Senate bill includes a provision to give the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which oversees the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) a new role: sponsoring health plans to compete against private health plans in every state in the nation.

    As Kay Cole James, a former director of OPM, points out in a recent op-ed, the FEHBP works because OPM plays the neutral role of an umpire: federal employees choose the private plan they like from a wide variety of different plans, all of which compete against each other to attract the most enrollees. The federal government provides its employees with a defined contribution towards their health costs, and it doesn’t micromanage their choices. OPM allows variety and flexibility in the program, and limits its regulatory role to ensuring consumer protections. Sen. Reid’s proposal would have OPM sponsor new multi-state plans. OPM would set the premiums for plans it sponsors.

    This new role for OPM is the Senate alternative to the House passed “public option”. But ordinary Americans should be leery of the difference. According to Kay Cole James, “this arrangement seems to be a “public option” in “private” option disguise… Because OPM would not merely serve as the umpire overseeing competition among private health plans. It would also become a health-plan sponsor, fielding its own team of players to compete against the existing private plans in every state.”

    Given this new role, OPM could engineer a crowd out other private insurers in the market. Furthermore, Section 1334 of the Senate health care bill allocates “such sums as may be necessary to carry out this section”. If the OPM-sponsored health plans were not profitable, it is thus conceivable that the taxpayer could end up footing the bill. This, along with the federal power to set rates and benefits, could easily end up as the public option that Senate liberals envisioned all along.

    Says James, “OPM’s job is to serve the federal civilian work force and its retirees, while enforcing merit principles in hiring and stopping prohibited personnel practices. It’s not OPM’s job to compete against private health plans.” The best features of the FEHBP- broad consumer choice and intense Multi-plan competition, free of heavy regulation and massive bureaucracy, and governed by approximately 80 pages of statutory text- are worthy of replication. Giving OPM the power to sponsor “multi-state” health plans in competition against the private sector is not the same thing.

    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to Beware a Public Health Plan in Private Disguise

    1. Chris Owens Scottsda says:

      It is truly sad that this liberal congress can manipulate the discord of healthy debate by prohibiting just that….civil discord of our states representatives to openly discuss this effort of socializing our health care. President Obama has to have some sort of conscience when he hears his "commitments" to transparency and then allows these "back room" dealings to occur. I can only say In God we trust!

      C. William Owens

    2. Dennis A. Social Cir says:

      If this is going to be so great, then WHY DOES CONGRESS AND OBAMA NOT WANT TO BE INCLUDED???? I wonder, it is not that great or they would be first inline to sign up. A bill was proposed for all members of congress to go under this form of rationed health care, the bill was never entered because pelosi and reid, and obama would not let it be. Folks think past your nose, if it is not goo for them then it can not be good for us!!!!

    3. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      Does anyone, including Congress, know exactly

      what is in this health care bill? But we all better realize that somewhere there will be a "public option" hidden within the wording. We are slowly learning how destructive this bill really is. That's exactly why Obama and the DEMS are secretly plotting behind closed doors to get this monstrosity passed before we can learn just how bad it really is. More and more the lastest liberal deception statement is, "just pass this now then worry about the details later". Of course they know, as well as we do, once this bill is passed, it will be almost impossible to recall any parts of it.

    4. Jill Hetherington says:

      Maybe this is God's way of saying, you don't want me in schools, in the public arena, this is what it is like when I'm not there anymore. Evil rules.

    5. Wallace says:

      The only way to get this health care bill repealed is by the American people putting those people who will repeal it into office come 2010 and 2012 elections. YES WE CAN!

    6. Tim Az says:

      Anyone that thinks this den of thieves will produce anything of value through their health care deserves exactly what they'll get. Daylight robbery by the hands of the IRS.

    7. John Clancy, Wyan.MI says:

      Machiavelli said in THE PRINCE that it doesn't matter if an aspiring tyrant tells the truth or not, but it is VERY important that the people THINK that he is telling the truth. Deception must be carefully crafted.

    8. Jeanne Stotler, Wood says:

      I just heard that the IRS will be the one to make sure that each of us will have Ins or be expected to pay the fine, isn't that great more gov't in our lives.

    9. Judy, cape cod says:

      If the Dems in the House & Senate have backbone they would not give a Yea on this bill that will be 1/6th of the control the Fed will have. They already have the Banking and Auto. What is next.

    10. Jeff Brodhead, WA (s says:

      It is time to STOP this revolution and it's Chicago Crime Bosses!

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