President Obama and his congressional allies want to create yet another government-run health insurance program (call it Fannie Med) to cover yet another segment of the American public (the non-elderly non-poor).
The whole idea that Fannie Med would be an “option” is a ruse.
Like the three “public options” we’ve already got – Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program – Fannie Med would drag down the quality of care for publicly and privately insured patients alike. Yet despite offering an inferior product, Fannie Med would still drive private insurers out of business because it would exploit implicit and explicit government subsidies. Pretty soon, Fannie Med will be the only game in town – just ask its architect, Jacob Hacker.
Now the question before us is, “Should we allow states to opt out of Fannie Med?” It seems a good idea: if Fannie Med turns out to be a nightmare, states could avoid it.
But the state opt-out proposal is a ruse within a ruse.
Taxpayers in every state will have to subsidize Fannie Med, either implicitly or explicitly. What state official will say, “I don’t care if my constituents are subsidizing Fannie Med, I’m not going to let my constituents get their money back”? State officials are obsessed with maximizing their share of federal dollars. Voters will crucify officials who opt out. Fannie Med supporters know that. They’re counting on it.
A state opt-out provision does not make Fannie Med any more moderate. It is not a concession. It is merely the latest entreaty from the Spider to the Fly.
(Cross-posted at National Journal’s Health Care Experts blog.)