To the editor:
Dr. Bruner and Mr. Burkhart recently had letters in the paper taking opposing positions on the public option in the health care debate. I would like to add my two cents’ worth.
To see how health insurance would work with or without a public option, look at Medicare Part B (medical coverage — public option) and Medicare Part D (drug coverage — no public option). Except for the years the Republicans controlled Congress and cut the budget annually, Part B premiums have remained fairly low while coverage has steadily expanded. Part D premiums, however, have risen dramatically. Coverage, on the other hand, has been decreasing. When Part D began, there was a plan in every state that had no coverage gap (doughnut hole). Now there is not in any state. Also, drugs that were covered one year are not the next. I suspect this is what we can expect if Congress fails to pass a public option.
The Republican plan for allowing insurance companies to sell across state lines may or may not reduce premiums. What it will do is make it harder to enforce state insurance laws. One of the main tools for dealing with an offending insurance company is to prohibit it from selling in that state. If they can sell across state lines, this becomes meaningless. It really amounts to a backdoor deregulation of the insurance industry.
One thing I find missing in all the Republican plans being offered is one to achieve universal coverage. I suspect they don’t have one.