Thursday, April 02, 2009

Who Is Afraid Of Public Health Insurance?

The Republican Party, that's who. I was reading about Kathleen Sebelius and her confirmation hearing to become the secretary of health and human services, and noticed the focus on the question of a public option in the health insurance markets:

Grassley and several colleagues voiced discomfort with suggestions that legislation include an optional government-sponsored health insurance program. Conservatives worry that a public plan would set unrealistically low reimbursement rates that could undermine the private insurance market.

Conservatives probably also worry that the public option might actually out-compete the private options and then we'd get --- gasp! --- socialism! Or at least socialism the way that term is used in this country which knows nothing about real socialism.

This particular topic gets the oddest comments from the Republicans. Grassley worries that the public option will pay providers too little (or that's how I interpret the 'low reimbursement rate' comment in the above quote), and Olympia Snowe worries that the option is too expensive:

The issue has already emerged as key stumbling block that threatens bipartisan consensus on health-overhaul legislation this year. Many congressional Democrats say that a health bill would have to include a nationwide public-insurance option, while Republicans readily dismiss the concept.

It is unclear if there is room for compromise between lawmakers on the issue. Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, a moderate Republican on the Finance panel who could prove a major player in debate over health legislation, warned Thursday that a public-plan option "could end up being far more costly" for those seeking insurance.

But if it's too expensive people will not sign up for it. Right?