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Debunking the Sun’s Debunked Healthcare Myth

The Baltimore Sun Editorial Board believes that it has debunked a so-called “myth” about the health care bill:

There’s a tantalizing rumor running through the Internet that the Democrats in Congress are conspiring to exempt themselves from the health care reform bills now being debated in Washington. It’s caught life in talk boards and blogs among the substantial number of people who are terrified that the government is secretly trying to completely take over health care and deny necessary treatment to millions. The fact that it’s not true doesn’t seem to have made much of a dent in the hysteria, which is increasing in its fervor this month as representatives and senators fan across the country to talk about health care with citizens in town hall meetings, web chats and conference calls.The origin of this particular conspiracy theory appears to lie with Louisiana Republican Congressman John Fleming, a physician, who is sponsoring a resolution calling for all members of Congress to be required to participate in the public health insurance option, if one is included in the health reform bill. His widely quoted press release on the matter reads, “Under the current draft of the Democrat healthcare legislation, members of Congress are curiously exempt from the government-run health care option, keeping their existing health plans and services on Capitol Hill.”
Trouble is, there’s nothing curious at all about the fact that members of Congress wouldn’t be required to sign up for the public health insurance plan. Nobody else would be, so why should they? But Mr. Fleming is fanning the notion that the health reform plan would somehow amount to socialized medicine á là Canada or England, despite explicit assurances from President Obama and the architects of the health reform proposals in Congress that people who like their health care now would be able to keep it under the reform plan.
That is technically true but that truth has a five-year half life. Read Section 102 pp 16-17 of HR 3200 and you will find that the bill sets up a five-year grace where you can indeed keep your healthcare. However, when that grace period expires, all plans must meet federally determined requirements, meaning that after five years your healthcare will change. And that means you won’t be able to keep the plan you have nor will you necessarily get a plan you like.
I would also like to introduce the Sun editorial writers to Jacob Hacker the Yale political science professor who devised the public option plan/strategy. Hacker openly admits that the public option is designed to put the country on the road to a single payer system. And I quote “It’s not a Trojan Horse. It’s right there. We’re gonna get there, over time, slowly, but we’ll move away from reliance on employer-based health insurance but we’ll do it in a way where we’re not going to frighten people into thinking they are going to lose their private insurance.” And “One of the virtues of it [the public option] though is that you can at least make the claim that there is a competitive system between the public and private sectors.”
So the popular concerns are well founded and the queries to their representatives whether they will forsake their lavish coverage for the government option is a valid concern. Why? Because The Lewin Group analyzed HR 3200 and found:
  • Approximately 103 million people would be covered under the new public plan and as a consequence about 83.4 million people would lose their private insurance. This would represent a 48.4 percent reduction in the number of people with private coverage.
  • About 88.1 million workers would see their current private, employer-sponsored health plan go away and would be shifted to the public plan.
  • Yearly premiums for the typical American with private coverage could go up by as much as $460 per privately insured person, as a result of increased cost shifting stemming from a public plan modeled on Medicare.
Like Hacker said “IT’S RIGHT THERE.” If only the Baltimore Sun editorialists had the eyes to see it.





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