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  • Sen. Nelson Says "No" to Public Option A Bit Too Late

    Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb)

    In the wake of widespread public backlash over his eleventh-hour deal to get increased federal taxpayer Medicaid funding for his vote, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) has been hitting the media circuit, assuring reporters that he won’t vote for any merged health care bill that funds abortions with taxpayer dollars or has a government-run health insurance plan.

    “There is zero chance (of a public option),” he said to The Chadron Record. “I’ve made it so clear. It isn’t going to happen.” But Sen. Nelson has already allowed a “public option” to flourish by voting for the Senate version last month.

    Medicare, for example, is the quintessential public plan. Instead of the Medicare bureaucracy contracting with private carriers to provide health coverage, as it does today, the latest Senate bill turns that responsibility over to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the agency that runs the federal civil service and the popular Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEBHP). Under the Senate bill, OPM would sponsor two “multi-state” health plans —one of which must be nonprofit — to compete against private plans in the country.

    In other words, there could be health plan competition on a national level in every state, but only the federal government would field these national health plans. These government-sponsored health plans would have an exclusive franchise: No private health plans would be able to compete in the same way as the selected health plans sponsored by OPM. In effect, the Senate bill creates a set of “public options” that are thinly disguised as private health plans.

    “If the Senate bill becomes law, OPM would not merely serve as an umpire overseeing the competition among private health plans within the FEBHP,” says Kay Cole James, a former OPM director who has warned about this latest congressional tactic to achieve a public plan. “The agency also would become the government’s health-plan sponsor.”

    That means this federal agency could field its own team of players, while setting premiums and making other rules for its sponsored health plans, competing against the existing private plans in every state of the union. If OPM officials manipulate the rules, and secure special advantages for its health plans, it could just as easily undercut private health plans and drive many insurers out of the market, James said. “What we’ll see is a stacked insurance market that favors a government-operated ‘private plan.’”

    “Sen. Nelson, I ran the OPM, and I can tell you that the Senate’s OPM sponsored plan is not an alternative to a government-run health plan — it is the ‘public option,’” James charges.

    Nelson and other senators should not be under the illusion that OPM’s new role is just like its old role in administering the FEHBP. The new role is very different, and is likely to consume a great deal of time, and energy and effort as the government’s player in the nation’s health insurance markets. Under current law, the agency plays the role of the federal government’s employer, providing different private health plan options that compete for federal workers, their families and retirees on a level playing field. The Senate bill language, however, not only authorizes OPM to become a health-plan sponsor, it also provides only sketchy solvency requirements for these health plans, as detailed by Heritage analyst Ed Haislmaier.

    Haislmaier didn’t find any language in the provisions that prevents a run on the U.S. Treasury if either of OPM’s government-sponsored health plans faced shortfalls. It sets the country up with another industry where the government would decide what entities would be “too big to fail.”

    Co-authored by Marguerite Higgins

    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    22 Responses to Sen. Nelson Says "No" to Public Option A Bit Too Late

    1. CDR M says:

      So if this is essentially a government/public option, what is Sen. Lieberman's take on this NOW?

    2. foxmuldar says:

      If Nelson really wants to save his job, he could try saying he will vote not for any Obamacare bill. We know that wont happen. So all his excuses are wasted on deaf ears. Nelson is toast shortly.

    3. gerard walsh, georgi says:

      It is very difficult to accept Nelson's words. What happens if Reid offers 500 million ? Reid may know what bribe to offer Nelson to buy his vote.

    4. gerard walsh, georgi says:

      Does reid know what Nelson will accept to change his vote ?

    5. J.C. Hughes. Texas says:

      I have no other choice but to believe such maneuvering is part of the congressional insiders subversive plan to total socialize the nation's healthcare delivery. Use tax payer money to undercut private insurance markets until the latter are forced out of business. Then hit every citizen with a large tax increase to pay for congress' nationalized healthcare monstrosity. It's all a sham. The president is ready to sign whatever version of congress' bill is thrown on his desk. Nothing good will come from Obama's signature. Today's high standard medical services will be extinct. Instead, Americans will have far less disposable income as they're forced to wait in long lines to receive third world care.

    6. Bill, Columbus, OH says:

      Too late Ben. I just sent another check to GiveBenTheBoot.

    7. John Roane Sarasota, says:

      The same can be said for Senator Bill Nelson from Florida

    8. JAK Virginia says:

      Unfortunately Ben Nelson is a “quick change” artist and his word is not his bond, only a means to an end. Even Nebraska voters no longer have faith in his commitments, and given his propensity to go where the advantage takes him, he is best avoided and ignored.

    9. Drew Page, IL says:

      Weasel words and damage control, that's what Mr. Nelson now has to offer. When the vote was taken he had a chance stop this. He sold out

      It is no longer a matter of IF he will sell out again, only WHEN and for HOW MUCH?

    10. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      It's all a lie. Nelson is trying to save his butt. Unlike my Senator, Mary Landrieu,

      who not only cut a deal with Reid (thus Obama) to defer Medicare expenses

      for Louisiana for 3 years, but Reid (thus Obama) and the DNC is sending

      funds to support her brother's (Mich (Moon Jr.) Landrieu) campaign for mayor of New Orleans. Now that's really worth destroying our ecomony and country for.

    11. Larry Welch, Idaho says:

      As the clear statements by the former OPM director reveal, the Senate Bill is written to deceive; it IS the fine print we've all been warned about. In one of today's Recent Entries of the Morning Bell, we read about the intention to provide virtually unlimited federal funding for abortion by Community Health Centers, despite the Hyde Amendment prohibitions — a subversion of the Rule of Law.

      Although the French revolution had its excesses, the guillotine was not one of them.

    12. Wildcat from Dallast says:

      Those senators who sold their soul for preferential treatment for their state over the few years (or until the money runs out) did so for a few possible personal reasons that everyone understands as unconscionable (and unethical) at the time they were made and reported. Nelson & Landrieu may have made whatever excuses they needed to soothe their souls. And they did this all the time keeping in the back of their mind the national public sediment (the majority who are against the bill) so that they can vote against the eventual combined bill (if they now) want to demonstrate they too were against it hoping that if it passes at least their state is taken care of (or whatever else they bargained for).

      In other words they want something to try and resurrect their corrupted careers. There may exist a small group of voters that will think they are special because their senator got them a great deal on this piece of crap bill!

      Just like MOST of the labels Progressives use and the bills they write, they are written to deceive those who fail to carefully read and comprehend the language used. Two other recent examples are the “Fairness Doctrine” concerning talk radio and “Net Neutrality” which is anything but neutral.

    13. John B. San Diego says:

      The Dems goose is cooked on this Obamacare. They are realizing everyone has been paying attention to the "Man Behind The Curtain" , some will retire some will be voted out and others will vote party line for fear of being cut off from campaign funds by Soros and the like.

      It really just gets down to if the plan is so good for the American People why won't those in both bodies of Congress even discuss accepting it as their own Obamacare? Because they would take this plan in a million years. Americans smell a rat!!

    14. Ben C. Ann Arbor, MI says:

      The election of Scott Brown next Tuesday could make all of this a moot point. Lets hope this happens!

    15. Jerry Davis, Tuscalo says:

      It is all about money and power. Obama and the Dems want more and more. Make them all beholden to us government and they will vote for us. Nebraska Nelson, Florida Nelson and Landrieu were all bribed. Everyone has their price. I am a retired doctor and you (us patients) will see the doctor on morning rounds, deciding what, if any tests are available, treatments desired versus what the 'Plan' will cover, options for therapy and most important when can we discharge this patient from the hospital to save money and make 'us, the doctor' look good and therefore get paid for your care. If you think Blue Cross is tough, you won't believe the Government. Some good people need to step to the plate and be counted. Who and where are they?

    16. Scott, Mulberry FL says:

      Amen on the "Nelsons" (Ben and Bill) being of the same mind. What an oxymoron that Bill is from the Sunshire State while this whole process is being mixed and massaged in the dark of night and behind closed doors by One Party. And he was the Insurance Commissioner in Florida!!!!

    17. John P. Bristol, T says:

      Scott Browns victory will make it moot till Reid decides to go for reconcilliation, which has a statutory limit of 5 years so either way Reid, Pelosi, Obama, Rahm, YOU LOSE!

    18. Jan R., Zephyrhills, says:

      I do believe that Scott Brown will get elected by the people. But they will delay his swearing in until after the vote on healthcare. Or, they will use their 51 vote power to vote it in anyway.

    19. Lynn Bryant DeSpain says:

      If one could interview all those rats leaving a sinking ship, I am quite sure that everyone of them would say,"I didn't do it."

    20. slim says:

      As a Nebraska resident, Ben lost his way. He failed to heed the people who were flooding his office and voted for cloture twice. By doing so, with the super majority in the senate it wouldn't be much of a step to take the healthcare debacle over the top. Nebraskan's know this and Ben will pay the price in 2012. 60% of Nebraskans are pissed off. 1st with Hagel and now Nelson. Seems like DC pollutes normally salient grey matter into DC mushbrain.

    21. Wm; Ky says:

      When will these career politicians stop trying to save their useless behinds and start trying to save this country?

    22. Bob G., Stanton, CA says:

      Payback is a you-know-what. Too lazy to read the fine print? This is what happens when one believes the government is here to "help". Will there be an effort to rescind the bill? What is the next thing to go? We not only have to wake up and smell the roses and do something to remove this albatross from around the people's neck but get the pseudo-president removed as well. Those who had the common sense to fight this knew very well we the people would be stuck. The government also did their own in; at least some of them, with this plan. Based on the analysis given here, even those who think they are getting something for nothing will pay heavily for it as well.

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