Argument: Co-ops are a slippery slope to socialized medicine

Issue Report: Health insurance cooperatives


Rick Moran. “Health Insurance Co-ops Too Much Like the Public Option”. American Issues Project. August 18, 2009: “There are slippery slope arguments against health insurance co-ops as well. With so many different co-ops, there would probably be vast differences in how efficiently they would be run. Some might even fail without continued government assistance. In the end, the federal government may end up taking them over anyway.”

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.): “It doesn’t matter what you call it. They want it to accomplish something that Republicans are opposed to. That is the step towards government-run health care in the country. The president himself said you can imagine a cooperative meeting that definition of a public option.”[1]

Michael Leavitt. “Health ‘Co-ops’ Are Government Care.” Wall Street Journal. August 20, 2009: “The Democrats are insisting that their version of a ‘co-op’ wouldn’t be government-run health care, but I ran Medicare and Medicaid as secretary of Health and Human Services, and I know this isn’t true. When Washington provides the money, names the directors and ultimately pays the bills, government controls health care. Lobbyists will lobby, Congress will respond, and bureaucrats will decide who gets care, what drugs are prescribed, what procedures are covered, and how much money providers can charge. This is true for Medicare, it’s true for Medicaid, and it would be true of Mr. Conrad’s ‘co-ops.’

Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is from Iowa farm country. He knows co-ops, and hopefully he also knows a plan for a government takeover when he sees it. He’s said he’s against a ‘public option,’ no matter what it’s called. Yet Senate Finance Committee Chairman Baucus, describing what he wants out of “co-op” legislation, spoke plainly, as reported by Politico earlier this summer, when he said, ‘It’s got to be written in a way that accomplishes the objective of the public option.'”

Michael D. Tanner. “Co-ops: A ‘Public Option’ By Another Name”. CATO Institute. August 17, 2009: “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.”

Ronald Bailey. “New Public Option, Same as the old public option?” Reason. August 18, 2009: “Democrats are unlikely to give up on the dream of a public health insurance scheme in favor of truly private co-ops or real competition. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has recently said that he could support the idea of health insurance co-ops. But Schumer insists that what he calls “co-ops” must be national in scope, jump-started with $10 billion in federal government funding, have the power to negotiate payment rates to medical providers nationwide, and be governed by a presidentially-appointed board of directors. Discerning any differences between Schumer’s idea of co-ops and the government health insurance option that the Democrats in the House of Representatives have already passed would take the equivalent of a public policy electron microscope.

When the administration backed off the public option, fury from left-wingers was swift. “You can’t have reform without a public option,” said former Democratic Party chair Howard Dean on CBS on Monday, “Let’s not pretend we’re doing reform without a public option.” Daily Kos blogger-in-chief Markos Moulitsas warned, “I wonder if the White House truly understands the depth of anger they’ll face from the progressive side if they fail to pass health care reform with a strong public option.”

But the left should calm down. Co-ops, implemented a certain way, will essentially be their public option. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) summed up Democratic intentions well: “We’re going to have some type of public option, call it ‘co-op,’ call it what you want.” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has clearly been listening to his colleague from Nevada. In The New York Times, Hatch noted, “You can call it a co-op, which is another way of saying a government plan.”

If it stinks like a skunk, it’s most likely a skunk. And no matter what health care co-op plan emerges from the Democratic Congress in September, it is unlikely to pass this smell test.”

Ken Glozer, a former Office of Management and Budget official and president of a consulting firm called OMB Professionals: “They don’t pay taxes, they borrow all their money from the U.S. government because they because can’t raise capital, and they are political as hell because they depend on the government. Over time they will seek and get untold favors that a private company won’t be able to get.”[2]

Bob Ellis. “The Slow Road to Govt Health Care: Co-Ops”. Dakota Voice. September 1st, 2009: “As President Obama’s poll numbers plummet and outrage over the proposed government takeover of health care rages on, socialists in congress are beginning to talk more of “co-ops” as a solution to our health care system woes.

Don’t be fooled.

A genuine co-op for health care, in the traditional sense of a co-op, wouldn’t be a bad idea. There have been co-ops in the United States for a long time, perhaps most typically in the agriculture industry. A co-op, or cooperative, is typically a voluntary association of people and/or groups that is formed to meet their common needs and is jointly owned by those involved with it.

That isn’t what socialists in congress have in mind when they talk of “health care cooperatives.”

As Shakespeare said, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet…and socialism by any other name would stink just as badly as it would by calling it what it really is.

In reality, their idea of health care co-ops is another Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debacle: a government entity funded by the taxpayers which operates under the illusion of being “private” while enjoying taxpayer largess and minimal accountability.”