August 17, 2009 10:33AM

Co‐​ops: A ‘Public Option’ By Another Name

Politico reports that the so‐​called “public option” provision could be dropped from the highly controversial health care bill currently being debated throughout the country:

President Barack Obama and his top aides are signaling that they’re prepared to drop a government insurance option from a final health‐​reform deal if that’s what’s needed to strike a compromise on Obama’s top legislative priority.… Obama and his aides continue to emphasize having some competitor to private insurers, perhaps nonprofit insurance cooperatives, but they are using stronger language to downplay the importance that it be a government plan.

As I have said before, establishing health insurance co‐​operatives is a poor alternative to the public option plan. Opponents of a government takeover of the health care system should not be fooled.

Government‐​run health care is government‐​run health care no matter what you call it.

The health care “co‐​op” approach now embraced by the Obama administration will still give the federal government control over one‐​sixth of the U.S. economy, with a government‐​appointed board, taxpayer funding, and with bureaucrats setting premiums, benefits, and operating rules.

Plus, it won’t be a true co‐​op, like rural electrical co‐​ops or your local health‐​food store — owned and controlled by its workers and the people who use its services. Under the government plan, the members wouldn’t choose its officers — the president would.

The real issue has never been the “public option” on its own. The issue is whether the government will take over the U.S. health care system, controlling many of our most important, personal, and private decisions. Even without a public option, the bills in Congress would make Americans pay higher taxes and higher premiums, while government bureaucrats determine what insurance benefits they must have and, ultimately, what care they can receive.

Obamacare was a bad idea with an explicit “public option.” It is still a bad idea without one.