Green Room

Why an Obamacare “Public Plan” should be an easy target

posted at 7:52 am on June 24, 2009 by

After Obamacare ran into trouble in Congress last week, the Left grasped at isolated questions in the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal and CBS/New York Times polls, purporting to show overwhelming support for a government-run insurance plan. I was not impressed by the wording of the questions, and even less impressed by the lack of follow-up questions that would have tested that support.

However, I just came across the Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll, which asked those sorts of questions in late April. The results are highly instructive.

The KFF poll showed that 67% percent supported creating a government-administered public health insurance option similar to Medicare to compete with private health insurance plans. Indeed, if people were told that it would give them more choices and drive down costs by competing with private insurance, support would jump another 11% — right into the range of those the aforementioned MSM polls.

However, if people heard that the public plan would be a first step toward single-payer, government-run healthcare, support dropped to 41%. And if people heard the public plan would give the government an unfair advantage over private insurance companies, support dropped to 32%.

As the healthcare deabte unfolds, opponents of a public plan can unroll video after video after video demonstrating that those pushing a public plan see it as the foot in the door to single-payer, government-run healthcare.

On the second point, Pres. Obama has now publicly admitted that “there is a legitimate concern if the public plan was eating off the taxpayer trough, it would be hard for private insurers to compete.” The public will quickly come to realize that unfair competition is the entire point of a public plan.

All anyone need do to demonstrate the point is to ask what would happen if the public plan ran into financial trouble. Does anyone seriously think that after bailing out Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG and GM (soon to be owned by the very UAW whose legacy healthcare costs made GM’s business unprofitable), the feds would fail to shovel money into a public plan far beyond the $10 billion in seed money Sen Chuck Schumer is already trying to lift from the taxpayers’ wallets?

Moreover, Independents and Republicans can be moved by arguing that if the federal government requires all employers to provide health insurance for their employees or pay to support a public plan, employers will likely drop their coverage and shift their employees into a public plan. The Lewin Group has estimated that about 119 million people would shift from their current coverage to the public plan, which is a two-thirds reduction in the number of people with private coverage.

In sum, it’s easy to find a poll that shows mile-wide support for a public plan. It’s much harder to find one that shows support more than a couple of inches deep.

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Why it won’t be an easy target:

1. Obama uses public support to push his plans when the support is there, but he ignores opposition when it’s not. Unless the opposition is strong enough to threaten Dems in congress, it doesn’t do any good.

2. Obama is crooked as the day is long. He’s not above bullying Dems in congress to get what he wants.

3. Obama feels like he really NEEDS to push through health care. His goal is to drive the nation into a major crisis (forced “change”), and he’s using big spending programs to do that. Health care and cap-trade are big spending programs that are important to this plan. So he’s going to push really hard.

Daggett on June 24, 2009 at 8:17 AM

Another important point – if up to 80% of Americans are “happy with their current coverage” – simply make the statement “a federally run program will threaten that coverage and will take it away”.

Most people don’t want to give up something “happy” for something unseen.

I believe your poll stats show this – as support declines with each step towards “government ownership.”

We can go back and forth as to the potentials (employers will walk away from private, non profit vs profit is regulation and unfair competition, costs for provate must and will go up to compete)- but I think its high time to take liberty with the end game result – you will lose your coverage.

I want to see them spin the 80%.

Odie1941 on June 24, 2009 at 8:48 AM

Blue Dogs aren’t going to support it, and they won’t let themselves be bullied.

People, mostly, are somewhat satisfied or quite satisfied with their coverage.

If the GOP offers ALTERNATIVES, and makes clear the COSTS (both in terms of $$, and quality of care), then Obarfo’s plot is dead in the water

blatantblue on June 24, 2009 at 8:49 AM

Why it won’t be an easy target:

1. Obama uses public support to push his plans when the support is there, but he ignores opposition when it’s not. Unless the opposition is strong enough to threaten Dems in congress, it doesn’t do any good.

2. Obama is crooked as the day is long. He’s not above bullying Dems in congress to get what he wants.

3. Obama feels like he really NEEDS to push through health care. His goal is to drive the nation into a major crisis (forced “change”), and he’s using big spending programs to do that. Health care and cap-trade are big spending programs that are important to this plan. So he’s going to push really hard.

Daggett on June 24, 2009 at 8:17 AM

Excellent analysis – you are right on the money.

He is hell-driven to make it happen.

From someone with a out of remission flare up of lymphoma, with his ideas – I would be pushing up daisies already.

AprilOrit on June 24, 2009 at 8:53 AM

Related:

GM to slash 4,000 more jobs.

Doing a helluva a job running that one company, Barry.

Can’t wait until the Great and Glorious State runs my health care (which, until this clod took office, was working just fine for me).

All anyone need do to demonstrate the point is to ask what would happen if the public plan ran into financial trouble.

Racist necon puppet Bush Cheney Halliburton Abu Gharib I won.

Good Lt on June 24, 2009 at 8:54 AM

I hope you guys are right, but I fear that you’re not. As I said, Obama regards this as an essential part of his plan to collapse the dollar and drive the nation into a crisis he can resolve with full-blown radical socialism and globalism. He won’t go down easily on this one.

Obama: Health Care Reform Will ‘Absolutely’ Be Passed By End of Year

Daggett on June 24, 2009 at 8:56 AM

The administration is going to try to sell that they are not going to put private insurance out of business. But, the reality is that they are. They will then be able to raise taxes, ration care, and interfere in our lives in more ways than anyone thought possible.

Blake on June 24, 2009 at 8:57 AM

The anti-smoking legislation is also a step in this direction.

Smoking will be illegal under a government-run plan because it won’t be “in the interest of public health.”

Justification? Taxpayers are paying for each other’s healthcare, and therefore, “unhealthy things” are no longer legal because they increase the costs of the government-run plan.

In fact, EVERYTHING and ANYTHING that the Democrats don’t like will be classified (under a government-run plan) as “not in the interest of public health,” which will be a catch-all phrase for limiting individual liberties in areas that have nothing to do with health (ie, the internal combustion engine pollutes, and therefore will be illegal. Here, comrade – buy this government-owned green sh*tbox instead!).

Very dangerous and very dishonest of the Administration to pretend and act like this is really no big deal and that destroying the private insurance industry will have no consequences.

Good Lt on June 24, 2009 at 9:10 AM

Kudlow had a good article at NRO yesterday. I wish these clowns would flesh out the features of their plans and the facts underlying them so that we can assess them sensibly. One thing Kudlow points out is that the 47 million uninsured figure is bogus.

Why can’t these clowns agree to the underlying facts, identify the problems they’re trying to remedy, and then devise proposals and explain specifically how they address the problems.

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YTYxYTFhYzNmNjIwODdiYmE0NWMzZDczYjUwZTVmNzQ=

BuckeyeSam on June 24, 2009 at 9:14 AM

Obama said yesterday the public option couldn’t be subsidized “endlessly.” But it won’t have to be subsidized for more than a few years. Just long enough to run private insurers out of business.

I have been warning people about this since Obama ripped off Edwards’ HCA plan during the campaign. They will couch the subsidies in “premium stabilization” language, or some similar nonsense about the fluid nature of the pools during the plan’s startup phase. Mark my words. They’ll also start trashing Lewin, even though they’re the best in the business (go to ffata.org and see all they do).

And may your remission continue, April!

DrSteve on June 24, 2009 at 9:20 AM

Well done. So many obvious and legitimate concerns that O has not openly addressed. He wants to sell the public plan as just another competitor–but how can that be if it has infinite funding, which, of course, it will have? Everyone knows if the costs of the plan turned out to be grossly underestimated, it won’t go out of business, we’ll just have to pay for it.

karlant on June 24, 2009 at 9:28 AM

This “poll” served only to prove how easy it is to manufacture results that will support any position at all.
The poll basically asked “If you could have free health care for life without paying for it would you take it?”

It’s amazing that so many people saw through the sham and refused to support it. This poll was designed to be about as honest as an Iranian election.

WWS on June 24, 2009 at 9:29 AM

Original 1966 cost estimates for Medicare (projected for 1990) were off by an order of magnitude.

DrSteve on June 24, 2009 at 9:48 AM

Howard Dean was on The Daily Show last night (don’t ask) talking about how great the public plan would be for small business because they could dump their employees on government coverage and they could save money.

I work for a small business and that did not sound appealing whatsoever.

I really hope they follow Dean’s strategy of convincing Americans this plan is great because they will end up being forced on government coverage. They will shoot themselves in the foot big time. I could not tell if he actually thought this was a good strategy or if he was slipping by admitting that if there is a public plan thousands who work for small business will end up being forced to get their coverage from uncle sam.

Joe Caps on June 24, 2009 at 9:48 AM

The anti-smoking legislation is also a step in this direction.

Smoking will be illegal under a government-run plan because it won’t be “in the interest of public health.”

Good Lt on June 24, 2009 at 9:10 AM

Yeah, I think that’s how it will play out. I also think that if the FDA bans smoking or even reduces nicotine, people will buy “real” cigarettes on the black market.

We’re getting closer and closer to the Demolition Man state. :D

Daggett on June 24, 2009 at 9:49 AM

Someone has already said this I am sure, but, I think the “strategy” was to move the argument further down the line toward consensus that there MUST be government intervention into healthcare and the public option was something even liberals were throwing out there KNOWING they would pull back, to give the impression that it’s a bipartisan compromise.

Whew. That was a convoluted sentence. Try to work with it.

Mommypundit on June 24, 2009 at 9:56 AM

Marc Ambinder this morning looked at why a government-run might not be able to put pressure on private insurance companies to better control health care costs.

seanhackbarth on June 24, 2009 at 10:18 AM

O’bama must think that the majority of the American people are stupid when he says that a Government run healthcare option will compete fairly in the free marketplace.

What’s left out of his logic is (The Government doesn’t need to make a profit…In fact, if “We The People” let the Dem’s have their way it can run at a loss/deficit).
How could any company, including the insurance companies, compete against it’s own Government with a stacked deck like he’s proposing? This man is single handedly trying to dismantle free market capitalism and is attempting to replace it with FASCISM and STATISM. This man has to be stopped and the American people need to wake up and I mean fast.

FreedomLover on June 24, 2009 at 10:30 AM

seanhackbarth on June 24, 2009 at 10:18 AM

Trust me, if Obama goes to bat for the public option he won’t toss it out there unprotected. It will have every institutional advantage he can think of.

DrSteve on June 24, 2009 at 10:32 AM