Assigned Reading: Health ‘Co-ops’ Are Government Care
(FROM: The Wall Street Journal)
A great piece, a must-read, from former HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt. In the commentary, Leavitt not only points out how the co-op model currently being pushed by some Democrats is fundamentally the same–or at least would boast the same results–as the “public option,” but also acknowledges the need for real reform, and sets out a few ideas. Here are a few excerpts:
Mr. Schumer’s conditions are a national structure, federal financing, and a ban on federal appointees who have ties to the insurance industry. This “co-op” would be federally controlled, federally funded, and federally staffed. Expressing his opposition to smaller organizations and his demand for a national “co-op,” Mr. Schumer says, “It has to have clout; it has to be large.” He adds, “There would at least be one national model that could go all over the country,” which would require “a large infusion of federal dollars.”
The Democrats are insisting that their version of a “co-op” wouldn’t be government-run health care, but I ran Medicare and Medicaid as secretary of Health and Human Services, and I know this isn’t true. When Washington provides the money, names the directors and ultimately pays the bills, government controls health care. Lobbyists will lobby, Congress will respond, and bureaucrats will decide who gets care, what drugs are prescribed, what procedures are covered, and how much money providers can charge. This is true for Medicare, it’s true for Medicaid, and it would be true of Mr. Conrad’s “co-ops.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is from Iowa farm country. He knows co-ops, and hopefully he also knows a plan for a government takeover when he sees it. He’s said he’s against a “public option,” no matter what it’s called. Yet Senate Finance Committee Chairman Baucus, describing what he wants out of “co-op” legislation, spoke plainly, as reported by Politico earlier this summer, when he said, “It’s got to be written in a way that accomplishes the objective of the public option.”
Our health-care system needs real reform. We need to abolish the unfair tax that favors employer-sponsored insurance over self-purchased insurance. We need to foster a more vibrant private market with greater competition and choice. We need to make prices transparent and give consumers more freedom to pursue health-care value.
Every American needs to have access to affordable health insurance. But we don’t need a “public option” that would jeopardize the employer-provided insurance of millions—an option that employers would be able to choose at their employees’ expense. And we don’t need the government running a bunch of so-called “co-ops,” rationing care at taxpayers’ expense.
This is typical Democratic Party modus operandi: Confronted with an unpopular policy? Rename it. Confronted with a losing argument? Re-frame it. On the latter, the Democrats have already managed to make the health care debate about race, and guns, and everything else. On the former, they’ve already taken the idea of “health care reform” and re-branded it “health insurance reform,” and it appears they’re ready to do the same with the vilified “public option.”
If you have a chance to attend a town hall meeting, respectfully ask your representative what the difference would be between the public option and the co-op he or she could be touting. Point out that both would be funded, staffed and controlled by the federal government, which will be concerned about costs–including end-of-life costs–equally whether running a “public health care option” or a faux co-op. The latter, as Leavitt correctly points out, is a Trojan Horse which will leave the American people just as susceptible to the decline into single-payer health care as would the “public option.”