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Re: “The Public Option

The Modest Bill – Really???

While we can all agree the information offered by our government about ‘‘America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009’’ HR3200 has been spotty at best, articles like The Public Option in the August 27, 2009 edition of the Memphis Flyer do a disservice to the public by presenting a soft-peddle version based on personal opinion rather than facts. The statement that this bill is in any way a modest bill is at best misleading and more likely dishonest. How is it reasonable to characterize a bill that is 1017 pages long and is estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to cost taxpayers nearly one trillion dollars as modest? Those are facts, not opinion. The fact is that HR3200 does subject people, notice I didn’t say citizens, to a government mandated system. Page 102 Section (3) states that ALL Medicaid eligible persons will automatically be enrolled in Medicaid if they elect not to enroll in an “Exchange.” And again, on page 145 Section (4) Employers are required to auto-enroll employees “into the employment-based health benefits plan for individual coverage under the plan option with the lowest applicable employee premium.” While there is a provision allowing the employee to opt-out, what employee with no health insurance coverage would actually opt out of a program providing them benefits mandated by the government at no cost to them? These, again, are facts, not opinion.

Let’s examine the euphemism proffered that this is merely a “pilot program”, “to enhance, not abolish, the system of marketplace competition.” In order to be objective, look at the problem in the abstract, irrespective of the health care industry. The proposal is for “modest venture” by government to establish, for arguments sake, Company A, which will compete with companies B, C, D, & E. Companies B, C, D, & E are already regulated by the government, now the parent company of Company A. Company A benefits from government regulation by forcing individuals and employers into Company A’s plan, and as the writer points out Company A would have an innate competitive advantage over other companies as the government would be subsidizing Company A with taxpayer money. How, in this case, could any company B, C, D or E truly compete? The answer is…they couldn’t. Then what happens? Company A becomes the only “option.” Unless, of course, the government run Company A is so wildly inefficient that it too would fail, but we have never seen that in government run entities have we? Oddly, the writer demonstrates this point exactly in the comparison of the U.S. Postal Service to Federal Express and UPS. Yes, Federal Express and UPS are surviving as private ventures, while the Postal Service is in the process of being privatized because as a government venture they were about to go bankrupt. How can any reasonable person argue that this is an example promoting government involvement in health insurance?

Last, let’s address the town hall meeting mentioned with Congressman Cohen. As an attendee, I concur, that there were some attendees who stood in support of Medicare. However, I think it is disingenuous to say that “a large percentage” of those supporting Medicare were “bellowing anti-government slogans.” This falls in line with the statements made across the country that town hall goers opposing this legislation are somehow un-American, contrived, or angry mobs. These general characterizations are flatly false accusations distracting from any real discussion of the facts involved. Speaking of facts let me point out a couple of false points made by Congressman Cohen at the town hall meeting. One assertion he repeatedly made is that there is nothing in the bill allowing for coverage of illegal aliens. I, respectfully, disagree. Page 50, Section 152 states “all health care and related services (including insurance coverage and public health activities) covered by this Act shall be provided without regard to personal characteristics extraneous to the provision of high quality health care or related services.” Either the Congressman hasn’t read the bill as he claimed or hoped that no one would understand that this provision speaks to all people, not just legal citizens. He also asserted that there is nothing in the bill allowing coverage of abortion. While he is technically correct that abortion is not specifically addressed. It is considered by government to be a medical procedure and is thereby covered under medical insurance. If, in fact, the design of this bill was not to include abortion, it would have to be explicitly excluded in the language of the bill. This deceptive omission by Congress is not an excuse to misrepresent the real impact of the legislation which would be to cover abortion procedures with taxpayer money.

I think you would be hard-pressed to find any American that does not support the idea that we have problems in our health insurance industry, and need to pursue more available, affordable health care for all of our citizens. Until we stop spreading false, misleading information and start dealing with the facts at hand, we will never really address the issues that need to be dealt with.

Posted by redrock711 on 08/29/2009 at 2:30 PM


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