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Critical Condition

NRO’s health-care blog.

The Irony of Mandatory Payments to Profit-Hungry, Private Insurance Companies



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Sen. Joe Lieberman announced today that he is ready to support “health-care reform” now that both a new, government-run insurance option and the ill-fated Medicare “buy in” idea have been stripped from the legislation.

It’s not really surprising that Senator Reid and the White House, desperate to pass anything called “health-care reform,” would succumb to Senator Lieberman’s demands to get his vote.

Still, though long in coming, the jettisoning of all flavors of the so-called “public option” — to appease Senator Lieberman, of all people! — must be an awfully bitter pill for the Left to swallow. After all, what is the Reid plan now that those provisions are out? In essence, it’s a requirement that all Americans pay health-insurance premiums to secure qualified coverage. And if there is no government-run option, the public will have no choice but to pay their premiums to private insurers. Yes, that’s right. The Democratic party is on the verge of enacting a requirement, enforced with federal tax penalties, which would effectively require hard-working Americans to hand over even more of their wages to profit-hungry, private insurance companies.

Yes, the Reid legislation may still include the half-baked idea to offer national, not-for-profit insurance plans out of the Office of Personnel Management. But no such plans currently exist in the marketplace, and it’s hard to see how they could get up and running and stay viable without crossing into the no-fly zone of a government-run option that would push Senator Lieberman out of the yes column. The not-for-profit concept is therefore either non-viable window dressing to make liberals feel better, or a foot in the door that will draw opposition when its details are revealed.

Of course, even without a new government-run insurance plan, the Reid bill is a policy monstrosity. It’s filled to the brim with mandates, fines, and new federal controls which will erode the quality of American medicine and lead to government-driven rationing of care. It’s a governmental takeover by regulation and bureaucracy, not program enrollment.

Still, it’s easy to see why liberal Democrats are screaming over the Lieberman apostasy. There’s really no industry they despise more than private health insurers. And now they are being told they have no choice but to vote for a bill that would hand over to those greedy insurers a captured marketplace of guaranteed insurance purchasers. Ironic indeed.



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