The Senate Version – The Last Step to Government Run Healthcare

Our Representative in Washington claims to be conservative. But he’s voted for the most liberal Speaker in the history of the U.S. House and voted for two big government stimulus bills that have failed to keep unemployment below 9.7 percent. Now, here he goes again. It appears he will vote for the Senate’s version of healthcare reform. According to his own words, he is poised to vote against the wishes of North Mississippians again, joining arms with Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid to establish federally mandated healthcare exchanges. When is our Representative going to accept the fact that North Mississippians do not want government run healthcare?

There is something you need to know about the Senate version of healthcare that has received little media attention. According to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, prior to the December 24, 2009 passage of the U.S. Senate healthcare bill, Harry Reid removed the public option and replaced it with a 383 page amendment called the “Managers Amendment.” If Childers votes the Senate version into law, this amendment will give the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the agency that runs the federal civil service, authority to contract for government sponsored health insurance plans which will compete against private health plans in federally mandated, state managed health insurance exchanges. State management of these exchanges will take place under stringent federal regulation. Private health plans competing in these exchanges will have to comply with federal rules. Essentially, these exchanges will be conducted in a highly regulated, standardized environment, where private sector innovation will be driven out.

There is concern that the federal government can bail out the government sponsored health insurance plans if they become insolvent, giving them an unfair advantage over private plans and passing the insurance risk onto taxpayers. Unlike the House bill, nothing in the Senate bill prohibits this. Government sponsored health plans can be offered on a national basis. Private plans will not enjoy the scope of this advantage. OPM can set premiums and benefits for government sponsored plans. Private plans in the exchange will be hamstrung by government regulation of the premiums they can charge and the benefits they must pay. These exchanges will create an unlevel competitive playing field for private insurers. Over time, private insurers could very well be driven into bankruptcy or forced to leave the insurance exchanges, where most consumers will likely shop for health insurance. If this should happen, single-payer, government run healthcare will become a reality. In essence, the Senate bill presents a de facto public option. As espoused by prominent liberals like Representative Barney Frank, the aim of the public option is the eventual erosion of private health insurers. It is clear, any person who supports an exchange, basically supports government run healthcare.

Back home, our representative seems to be undisturbed by the impending government takeover of healthcare. During a February 24, 2010, tele-town hall, Mr. Childers said he is “unopposed to the Senate version.” If his own words are not convincing enough that he will vote “yes” for a government takeover, then take a look at his website. According to his official website, he believes a “Health Care Exchange will create sufficient competition within the insurance marketplace without a public option. If it does not, then we need to act accordingly to continue to bring down the cost of health insurance premiums.” Considering his open support of the Senate version, one can only assume that “sufficient competition” really refers to the federal government competing against the private sector.

Henry Ross
3/16/10