Doesn’t Matter What You Call It – Government-Run Plan Is Wrong Prescription, Republicans Say
October 27, 2009 - 10:34 AMRepublicans are particularly disappointed that the Senate health care reform bill will include a provision allowing the government to sell health insurance in competition with private insurers.
But unlike the House bill, the Senate proposal would allow states to “opt out” of the government-run plan, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, but he offered no details on how that would work.
"I believe there is strong consensus to move forward in this direction," Reid said at a Capitol Hill press conference on Monday. "I think it's the fairest way to go," he told reporters.
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) was the only Republican on the Senate Finance Committee to vote for the Democrat’s health care reform legislation, which at the time did not include a government-run insurance option. On Monday, Snowe said she was “deeply disappointed” with Reid’s decision to include a so-called "public option" in the Senate version of the bill.
Snowe favors a “trigger option” that would allow a government-run plan to kick in only under certain conditions: “I still believe that a fallback, safety net plan, to be triggered and available immediately in states where insurance companies fail to offer plans that meet the standards of affordability, could have been the road toward achieving a broader bipartisan consensus in the Senate,” Snowe said in a statement.
Republicans say it doesn’t matter what you call it: They say the whole point of including any government-run plan is to drive private insurance companies out of business: "“Whether you call it a public option, an opt-out, a trigger, or a co-op, the fact is, all of these proposals put us on the path to government-run health care,” House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said on Monday.
"Forcing Americans off of their current health coverage and onto a government-run plan isn’t the answer, but that’s exactly what the Democrats’ plan would do."
President Barack Obama has promised Americans that if they like their current insurance, they can keep it. But Republicans say that’s a promise the president cannot make.
“When you set the government up as a competitor, as a funder, as a regulator, all that can happen is, it’s going to drive the private sector out,” Sen. Chuck Grassley told Fox News on Tuesday. “So I think we ought to concentrate on what to do about the private market and enhance that to take care of the problems we have, as opposed to setting up a new government program.”
A bill that drives up insurance premiums and taxes and also cuts Medicare is not health care reform, Grassley said.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell also warned that the Democrats' "trillion dollar" legislation will raise insurance premiums, raise taxes and slash Medicare to create new government spending programs.
"That's not reform," McConnell said on Monday. "So, wholly aside from the debate over whether the government gets into the insurance business, the core of the proposal is a bill that the American public clearly does not like, and doesn’t support.”
Karen Ignagni, President and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), said the proposed government-run insurance plan "would underpay doctors and hospitals rather than driving real reforms that bring down costs and improve quality. The American people want health care reform that will reduce costs and this plan doesn't do that."
Ignangi called a government-run plan a "roadblock to reform." "It's time we focus instead on broad-based reforms that will ensure the affordability and sustainability of our health care system," she added.