NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 12, 2009

If President Obama signs into law a "public option" government-run health insurance program, American could be on its way to becoming a European-style welfare state, says Karl Rove, former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.

To prevent this from happening, there are five arguments Republicans must make, says Rove:

  • A public option is unnecessary; advocates say a government-run insurance program is needed to provide competition for private health insurance, but 1,300 companies already sell health insurance plans and that's competition enough.
  • A public option will undercut private insurers and pass the tab to taxpayers and health providers just as it does in existing government-run programs; for example, Medicare pays hospitals 71 percent and doctors 81 percent of what private insurers pay.
  • Government-run health insurance would crater the private insurance market, forcing most Americans onto the government plan.
  • The public option is far too expensive; the cost of Medicare -- the purest form of a government-run "public choice" for seniors -- will start exceeding its payroll-tax "trust fund" in 2017.
  • The public option puts government firmly in the middle of the relationship between patients and their doctors.

In other words, the public option is phony. It's a bait-and-switch tactic meant to reassure people that the president's goals are less radical than they are, says Rove.

Health care desperately needs far-reaching reforms that put patients and their doctors in charge, bring the benefits of competition and market forces to bear and ensure access to affordable and portable health care for every American, says Rove.

Source: Karl Rove, "How to Stop Socialized Health Care," Wall Street Journal, June 11, 2009.

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