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Heavy-Handed Politics

"€œGod willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world
without the United States and Zionism."€ -- Iran President Ahmadi-Nejad

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Left’s ‘public option’ is no option

By Amanda Reinecker
The Heritage Foundation

"Americans just aren't buying President Obama's all gain, no pain, health care claims," Heritage Foundation expert Conn Carroll reports. That's because more and more Americans are finding that President Obama's "public option" would be, as Heritage President Ed Feulner writes in Townhall.com, the "only 'option.'"

The "public option" would be a government-run health insurance company that would "compete" with other firms. But it wouldn't be just another insurance company.

"Far from being merely an option," Heritage Vice President Stuart Butler explains, "a Medicare-style public plan would unleash a dynamic that is not what Americans thought they were voting for last November."

Government's dueling roles as health insurer and health insurance regulator would give the "public option" an unfair leg up on its competition, suffocating private firms and forcing millions of Americans onto government rolls.

It's no secret that some lawmakers support the "public option" exactly because it could effectively nationalize the health insurance industry, creating a single-payer system where government is the sole provider. In an impromptu interview, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) admitted, "I think if we get a good public option, it could lead to single payer."

But many other lawmakers, including many Democrats, are hesitant to support such a radical plan. Butler attributes this to the age-old fact that more government "turns out not to be a selling point" among most Americans. Facing strong resistance, both the House and Senate are defying President Obama's wishes and postponing a health care vote until after the August recess.

The conservative alternative

If they don't get their way, the Left threatens to "torpedo reform" of any sort. This could stymie even common-sense conservative reforms.

The Heritage Foundation alternative to socialized medicine is to enact serious reforms in current tax and insurance law that would expand personal ownership and control of health insurance and transfer the control of health care dollars to individuals and families.

These reforms would move today's bureaucracy-driven, heavily regulated third-party payment system to a new patient-centered system of consumer choice and real free-market competition.

One plan, the Patients' Choice Act of 2009, would expand individual control over their health care dollars. The plan, as Heritage experts Greg D'Angelo, Rea Hederman and Paul Winfree explain, would provide a new health care tax credit of $2,290 for individuals and $5,710 for families. This would allow Americans to buy health insurance with pre-tax dollars, even if their employer doesn't offer coverage, and take their plan with them from job to job.

This change "would not only help the middle class buy insurance and extend coverage to the uninsured," they argue. "It would also set in place powerful incentives to reduce the rapid growth in health care expenditures."

Visit Heritage's FixHealthCarePolicy.com to learn more about alternatives

It's time for Congress to start listening to the people and devise real health care reform that advances freedom, opportunity, prosperity and civil society. As Heritage's Stuart Butler argues, "it's time for President Obama to pull the plug on the public option."

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