Members of the Senate Finance Committee have just voted 15-8 against adding the so-called public option to the Senate health-insurance reform bill;a vote on a second, similar amendment is forthcoming. (UPDATE: The second effort was rejected 13-10.)
Committee Democrats who voted against the measure generally did so on grounds that a bill including the public option would not pass on the Senate floor. Republicans generally argued that including the public option would eliminate private insurance, producing a single-payer, government-run system.
So let me repeat an earlier and pretty simple request: Walk me through the process by which the public option would supposedly eliminate private competition.
I have seen the charge asserted repeatedly, but nobody has yet explained how that chain of events would play out. The best attempts I’ve seen involve claims that in LATER legislation Congress might CHANGE the law to produce such an outcome, but opposing a bill today based on what you imagine Congress might do years later isn’t much of an argument.
Let’s talk facts and law. What in the current legislation would produce that outcome?
Under the House bill, which already contains a public option, the public insurer would be required to finance all of its operations and benefits solely through insurance premiums paid by its customers, just as private companies would. It could not be subsidized through taxes. It also would have to offer the same range of coverage and benefits as private plans, and private plans would have equal access to customers whose insurance was being subsidized.
Given all that, if private companies are truly much more efficient than public entities, it is the public option that would presumably be run out of business, not the private plans.
So why do Republicans claim it would run private companies out of business? Don’t the Republicans have faith in private enterprise to compete? If the public option would have unfair advantages, what are they?