Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Going to Plan B

It looks as though those who advocate single-payer (the euphemism for national health insurance) may have to settle for Plan B.

On Wednesday, May 6, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Obama administration, appeared before Congress and “flatly rejected the idea of the government taking over the nation’s medical insurance system.”

That statement was reported in a syndicated Tribune article that appeared in the May 7 edition of the Omaha World Herald.

Sebelius went on to affirm the desire of the administration “to create a so-called ‘public plan option’ to encourage competition, not a monopoly.” Such a plan would “compete with private insurers – both to help cover the more than 46 million currently without insurance and to encourage cost containment and better programs.”

Single-payer advocates may want to believe that the public plan option really reflects the intention of the administration to achieve single-payer by the back door. I wouldn’t count on it. It is possible, I think, that the intention is to use it as a bargaining chip in the effort to persuade providers to get serious about cost reduction.

So those who are seriously concerned about the uninsured ought to be thinking about ways to address that issue that do not include single payer.

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