“Public option” bait-and-switch campaign fools pollsters
Posted by Andrew Coates MD on Monday, Oct 19, 2009
By Kip Sullivan, JDThe New York Times reported on Saturday, October 17, that Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is warning his constituents that the “public option” is not going to be available to the great majority of Americans.
No one who has actually read the Senate health committee’s “reform” bill or the House “reform” bill (HR 3200) disputes this. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the “option” will be available only to about 30 million people, or about one American in ten. As the Times put it (slightly inaccurately), the “option” in the Democrats’ legislation “would be out of bounds to the approximately 160 million people already covered through employers.”
Does the public understand this? According to Wyden, they don’t. Wyden says his constituents are shocked when they are told the “option” will not be available to the vast majority of Americans.
When he began informing his constituents about this truth last summer, “They nearly fell out of the bleachers,” he said (“And the public option is….,” New York Times, October 17, 2009, A10).
Democrats and “option” advocates should pay attention to Wyden’s observation. Wyden is saying, in so many words, that “option” advocates, with help from the media and the blogosphere, have fooled the public into thinking everyone will be eligible to buy insurance from the “option,” and when the public finds out this isn’t true, they’re not going to be happy.
I was not surprised by Wyden’s observation. I have written several papers warning the public that they have been the object of a “bait and switch” campaign by the leadership of the “option” movement. The “bait” in this campaign was the original version of the “option” promoted by Jacob Hacker. This version would have created an enormous public program that would have insured half the non-elderly population. Among several provisions of this first version of the “option” that would have ensured large size was one that said the “option” had to be available to all non-elderly Americans. The “switch” occurred when Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and three chairmen of House committees drafted legislation that would create a very small and weak “option.” One of the provisions in the Democrats’ legislation that ensured their version of the “option” would be weak was a provision limiting subsidies and eligibility for the “option” to a small fraction of the population, namely, the uninsured and employees of small firms.
Public option likely to be managed by private insurance company
By John Byrne
Saturday, October 24th, 2009 -- 7:31 am
A little-noticed tidbit in Saturday's Washington Post is sure to raise eyebrows among liberal supporters of a gorvernment-run healthcare plan: the plan is likely to be administered by a private insurance company, the very companies that progressive activists are trying to unseat.
The public-option debate is frustrating some Democrats, who have come to believe that a government-run plan is neither as radical as its conservative critics have portrayed, nor as important as its liberal supporters contend. Any public plan is likely to have a relatively narrow scope, as it would be offered only to people who don't have access to coverage through an employer.
The public option would effectively be just another insurance plan offered on the open market. It would likely be administered by a private insurance provider, charging premiums and copayments like any other policy. In an early estimate of the House bill, the Congressional Budget Office forecast that fewer than 12 million people would buy insurance through the government plan.