Friday, May 8, 2009

Health care - HHS secretary makes clear: It would be a public OPTION, not a takeover

From the Los Angeles Times:

Obama backs public and private healthcare insurance
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius tells Congress that the administration wants to create a government-run program to encourage competition.
The Obama administration's senior healthcare official Wednesday flatly rejected the idea of taking overthe nation's medical insurance system, saying the federal government did not want to assume management of healthcare coverage....
Sebelius responded that states for years had offered their government employees a choice between a public insurance program and a private plan for healthcare coverage.
"It can work very effectively, and does work very effectively," she said, indicating that such arrangements could be a model for overhauling insurance markets nationally.

Also, from the Associated Press today:
Sources: Senators weigh 3 government health plans

President Barack Obama and many Democrats say a government option would serve as a check to keep the private insurance industry honest. ...

The three approaches being discussed are:
_Create a plan that resembles Medicare, administered by the Health and Human Services department.
_Adopt a Medicare-like plan, but pick an outside party to run it. That way government officials would not directly control the day-to-day operations.
_Leave it up to individual states to set up a public insurance plan for their residents.

And this part jumps out at me -- boldface added:

If the public plan were open to all employers and individuals — and if it paid doctors and hospitals the same as Medicare — it would quickly grow to 131 million members, while enrollment in private insurance plans would plummet, the study found.
By paying Medicare rates the government plan would be able to set premiums well below what private plans charge. Employers and individuals would rush to sign up.


And here's a quick check of where major Democratic PA Senate candidates or potential candidates stand on the public option:

Senator Specter: Opposed (for now)

Congressman Sestak: Reportedly 'unsure'

Joe Torsella: We're awaiting his response

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