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There was, of course, a tremendous amount of excitement in this community over the news -- more like a reminder -- that the federal government would be sponsoring two nationwide plans -- one a non-profit plan -- in the new Affordable Care Act exchanges.

Well, it seems like conservatives are actually fairly 'worried' about this policy -- and, while these plans are still far from the public option we should have won, it's hard not to feel good about a social policy that causes Republicans to cry 'single payer uncle' and makes us excited. There's a reason for the dichotomy of views: this is good policy.

Grab your popcorn and read some of the following comments from the WND conservative rag:

A provision for federal competition with private insurance was given little attention, because it was not scheduled to enacted for some time.

However, with Tuesday’s election results, there appears to be no hurdle to the full imposition of Obamacare’s massive taxes and restrictions, according to analysts.

And that raises prospects that been on the back burner, such as the possibility Obamacare would lead to a single-payer, national program that controls all of health care.

The Galen Institute, a public policy research group working on policies that help the health sector through individual freedom, consumer choice and competition, has raised the issue again.

Bob Moffit, a health policy expert with the Heritage Foundation who has been a leader in the fight against a “public plan” option in Obamacare, “believes, correctly, this will quickly wipe out private sector competition and lead us into a single-payer, government-run health system,” the institute said.

‘While the public option was not specifically included in the health law, the Obama administration is well on its way to creating it anyway,” the institute said.

Yes, yes, yes, this is not a real public option as defined by the President. And, yes, it's probably not going to get us closer to single payer anytime soon. But, the reality is that the non-profit nationwide plan would represent the potential for a game-changer insurance provider to enter the U.S. health care 'system'. Health care systems in France, Germany and Japan that are not technically 'single payer' but consist of a host of highly-regulated non-profit 'sickness funds' do very well indeed at covering everyone.

As Wendell Potter and others have argued, a big part of our current crisis is that non-profit insurers became big-profit insurers over the last 50 years, transforming the American health care system into the Aetna/Cigna/UnitedHealthCare hell that it is today. These nationwide plans, in particular the non-profit plan, can represent a big step away from the status quo.

Let the right-wing thinkers explain further:

“Despite media reports to the contrary, the ‘public plan’ for government-run health care is alive and well and traveling through the legislative process under a false identity in the giant Senate Health Bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590). During the final stages of the Senate floor debate on this bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., amended it with a 383-page ‘Manager’s Amendment’ that removed the earlier provisions for a ‘public plan’ and substituted new provisions that would expand the authority of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the agency that runs the federal civil service, to sponsor health plans. The Senate bill, with the Manager’s Amendment, passed the Senate on December 24, 2009. In effect, this Senate action is not the death of the public plan, but a reincarnation.

Moffit said the OPM in a year will field a special team of health insurance plans to “compete” against private health plans in government health insurance exchanges, “potentially in every state in the country.”

“The main reason these government-sponsored health plans would exist would be to compete directly against private health plans on a national basis. They would be the only health plans in America that would be permitted, under the Senate bill, to compete on a national or ‘multi-state’ basis – they would enjoy an exclusive franchise. No other private health plans would enjoy that scope of competition,” the analysis continued.

“It is another version of a ‘public plan’ but the provision creating it has never been subject to a congressional hearing or the normal processes of legislative deliberation,” the analysis said.

“As plainly conceded by the most ardent liberal ‘public option’ champions in Congress, such as Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., the ultimate objective of the ‘public option’ is the erosion of private health insurance and its replacement by a single-payer health care system.”

Therein lies a potential danger for Americans, the analysis noted, because the OPM’s power “is enormous.”

The law, for example, does not have any language setting limits on how OPM would impose “stricter standards on benefits, or from setting the rates for plans … OPM can add or subtract benefits, or define how they are to be structured and delivered,” the analysis said.

And from the Syracuse Post-Standard:
The insurance industry is concerned that the federally backed plans may not be required to comply with every state’s laws, mandates, fees and taxes. Conservatives worry that these plans could end up being the stalking horse for the public option and ultimately, a true single-payer system.
Folks, want more proof that the big-profit insurers still believe that the ACA could be devastating to their business (read: profits)? Check out Aetna CEO David Bertolini's -- who was just invited to the White House with a group of other CEOs -- latest ideas for dealing with the fiscal cliff:
Bertolini said delays or cuts to Obama’s $1.2 trillion health-care overhaul may be part of the solution as the U.S. seeks a long-term fix to its budget deficit. The overhaul’s subsidies to help the uninsured buy coverage may be scaled back or phased in, or their onset delayed past a scheduled 2014 start date, he said.
Insurance company CEOs don't like the ACA and they'll keep fighting to undermine the little policy details of the law if we're not careful.

This 'not really a public option public option' is a crucial piece to pushing America towards a health care system that could be just as high quality as that which exists in Germany, France, Japan or Switzerland.

If we don't fight really hard over the details of these OPM plans -- particularly the non-profit plan -- we're losing a golden opportunity to push the implementation of this law in a decidedly pro-consumer direction.

Folks, stay awake, because the Aetna CEO -- and his corporate death panel friends -- are ready to pounce.

Originally posted to james321 on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 09:56 AM PST.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges and DK Poli.

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