Like the gauze-wrapped creatures who just won’t stay dead in those late-night movies you’re too tired to turn off, the “public option” has returned to Washington.
An analysis by Investor’s Business Daily, which called it the “Zombie Option,” said the idea – rejected in debate over the health-care plan signed into law earlier this year – is being promoted yet again as a way to save the government money.
Democratic Reps. Lynn Woolsey and Pete Stark of California and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois have joined to put together the newest proposal, called the “public-option act.”
It was only a few days ago when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told a Las Vegas convention, “We’re going to have a public option. It’s a question of when,” according to Investor’s Business Daily.
The plan by that time already was proposed on paper, and it now has 128 House Democratic Party co-sponsors, the report said.
The proposal states: “For years beginning with 2014, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (in this subtitle referred to as the ‘Secretary’) shall provide for the offering through Exchanges established under this title of a health benefits plan (in this Act referred to as the ‘public health insurance option’) that ensures choice, competition and stability of affordable, high-quality coverage throughout the United States in accordance with this section. In designing the option, the Secretary’s primary responsibility is to create a low-cost plan without compromising quality or access to care.”
Investor’s Business Daily commentary said Schakowsky claims it would be a cost-saving measure, just like Medicare.
“Is that the same Medicare that in 1966 was only supposed to cost $3 billion, and that the House Ways and Means Committee once assured the country would only cost $12 billion by 1990? Is it the same program that really ended up costing $600 billion by 2008?” the commentary wondered.
Investor’s Business Daily noted Obamacare itself is a “stepping stone” to the format of a public option.
“As Kathryn Nix of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Health Policy Studies noted Wednesday, the Office of Personnel Management will be authorized to administer health plans,” the commentary said. The office “‘would set benefits, premiums and medical-loss ratios for these plans, and there’s nothing on the books to stop the agency from modeling the plans after a public option. Worse yet,’ she adds, Obamacare ‘says nothing about any solvency requirements for’” the Office of Personnel Management–run plans.
The Washington Independent reported Woolsey’s opinion that the program “can save billions of dollars and improve health care while doing it.”
The bill’s supporters claim the low cost of running a government program would be good for consumers because it would force private carriers to lower their costs also. The Congressional Budget Office forecasts it might reduce the government’s budget deficit $68 billion within 10 years.
However, the Independent report said there would be strong objections from private insurance companies, and the actual vote on the plan isn’t expected during this Congress.
A House Democratic aide told the Independent the next Congress could take it up.
In a forum section at the Independent, consumers weren’t quite ready to believe that the congressional creation of another massive government program would help.
“What a crock … every time the CBO comes out and sez, ‘This program will save the taxpayers $ XXX billions of dollars’; AND THEN a few months later come out a[nd] tell us it is going to COST taxpayers billions of dollars,” wrote one participant.