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  • OPM: The Public Option in Disguise

    In order to secure the votes to pass a health care bill, Senate Democrats were forced to scrap the widely-unpopular public option. But before chalking this up as a victory for opponents of government-run health care, though, its replacement deserves a closer look. As described in Sec 1334 of the Senate bill, the Director of the Office for Personnel Management (OPM) would now be charged with sponsoring a set of multi-state health plans to compete with private insurers. As a recently published detailed analysis by Heritage’s Bob Moffit and Kathryn Nix shows, this new program is simply a placeholder for the public option.

    On January 20, The Heritage Foundation hosted three former OPM directors to explore the ramifications of the new proposal. Former Director Linda Springer opened by questioning the role of OPM in the proposal. OPM currently administers the successful Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, and it is due to this expertise that the agency was chosen to run the new multi-state plans. However, Springer warned that overstretching OPM beyond its traditional role could result in the cannibalization of the existing FEHB program.

    Dan Blair, another former Director, echoed this fear, emphasizing that the new role assigned by the Senate bill falls well outside the mission of the OPM, which is to ensure an effective and efficient federal workforce. This establishes a critical question that lawmakers must answer: Is the federal workforce better served by the current OPM, or one that has an entirely new and unrelated agenda? Blair noted, “to me, the two objectives don’t seem to mesh very well, and I’m concerned of what the impact will be on OPM’s other programs.

    Moreover, there are too many unanswered questions about the program to gain an accurate assessment of the proposal. As Blair pointed out, this provision was added to the bill after it left committee, and no hearings or in-depth analyses have been conducted to enhance understanding of its reach. Remaining unanswered questions include the overall cost of the program and who will bear the risk of insolvency. The language on this is vague, when not altogether absent.

    Finally, whether deliberate or not, Sec. 1334 would allow the Director near-limitless powers to dictate competition within health insurance markets. Specifically, the bill allows for the Director to personally set premiums for the sponsored health plans and negotiate profit margins and medical loss ratios that may differ from the rules that HHS would apply to private health plans.  According to Moffit and Nix, then, “the new Senate bill makes no pretense to establishing anything resembling a level playing field for market competition between public and private health insurance options.”

    Former OPM director Donald Devine emphasized this point by citing changes he himself made to the FEHBP during his tenure as Director in the early 1980s. Devine cut benefits and denied abortion coverage, decisions that were unpopular, especially on the left, but upheld nonetheless by the Supreme Court. Under the Senate bill, this power would be extended to OPM’s new role in the state exchanges.

    As Devine himself said,“This is incredible power to give somebody over the health care of the people of the United States…I’ll put it this way…do you really want to put me in charge of your medical program for everybody in the country?

    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to OPM: The Public Option in Disguise

    1. MarkJackson says:

      Thanks so much for the great post. I've been searching for blogs like this now for 30 minutes and i finall found one

      that's worthwhile. I'm really into video games, do you have any information on the new Call of Duty? I know this

      is off topic, but I thought I'd ask. Thanks…oh also, I have some video game writings if you want to check them

      out. Here are a few of them

      Druid Leveling Guide

      Warlock Leveling Guide

      Feral Druid PvP

    2. West Texan says:

      What??? The former directors are absolutely correct. Only this type of machination was possible from the likes of Pelosi and Reed. Talk about third world back alley corruption. As the old saying goes, "Want doesn't make right." Simply because the far left fantasizes about a public plan doesn't mean it's right for Americans. Nor is it constitutional. And to try and side step such through the federal's personnel management? November is not the answer. It's time to begin impeachment on grounds of blatant government mismanagement.

      It's also time for states to follow Virgina's lead declaring Obamacare null and void. It's their compact right under the U.S. Constitution.

    3. Charles Hartwigsen says:

      I'm not for any government run health program. even though I take a drug that cost over $4800.00 per month. The donut hole cost me 4700.00. This week I received a check from medicare for $250.00 because I had surpast the donut hole.

      I beleive if the government would get out of the retirement programs and health care and many other gov. run programs. I would not be paying this much for a drug. I would have much more money to take care of my own retirement. Let us do our own thing.

      Chuck

    4. Pingback: New Bill Not Necessary: Public Option Already in Obamacare | Fix Health Care Policy

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