With news spreading today that Democrats may abandon the "public option" in the health care reform bill, Senate Republicans issued this analysis suggesting the new "cure" may be worse than the disease. Here's the text of a memo issued by the Senate Republican Policy Committee earlier this afternoon:
The Democrats are spinning that they have reached an agreement that would alleviate concerns within their caucus by dropping a new government plan. However, the details released in the press suggest this new plan is even worse than the government plan currently in the Reid bill. The apparent compromise is having the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) negotiate for national private plans. However, that provision appears intended to distract from the poison in the new pill. The New York Times reported that, "If these private plans did not meet certain goals for making affordable coverage available to all Americans, Senate Democratic aides said, then the government itself would offer a new insurance plan, somewhat like the 'public option' in the bill Mr. Reid unveiled three weeks ago." Similarly, the Washington Post said that "If private firms were unable to deliver acceptable national policies, a government plan would be created."
We know from the CBO that the mandates in the bill will drive up premiums 10-13 percent above what they would be under current law. Because the Reid bill drives up premiums, the national government plan would be triggered even if affordability targets were set to match current law. In short, the Democrats' new "compromise" would rig the game to implement a national government-run plan.
The agreement also includes a huge new government plan expansion at the outset by allowing a Medicare buy-in for people 55-64. Doctors and Hospitals (AMA, FHA, AHA, Mayo) have all come out in vigorous opposition to this proposal. This is because they recognize this is nothing more than a government plan paying Medicare rates-the same liberal policy that Nancy Pelosi couldn't pass in the House. This may explain why liberal Congressman Anthony Weiner released a statement endorsing the Medicare buy-in, saying that, "Extending this successful program to those between 55 and 64, a plan I proposed in July, would be the largest expansion of Medicare in 44 years and would perhaps get us on the path to a single payer model."
The Democrats may try to spin this as a "compromise," but it's worse than the bill as it stands now.