Earlier today, American Medical Association president J. James Rohack appeared on CNN and, to the great confusion of the network’s anchors, waffled a bit on the question of a public option.
Last month, the AMA told the Senate Finance Committee, in no uncertain terms, it opposed the public option altogether. “The A.M.A. does not believe that creating a public health insurance option for non-disabled individuals under age 65 is the best way to expand health insurance coverage and lower costs. The introduction of a new public plan threatens to restrict patient choice by driving out private insurers, which currently provide coverage for nearly 70 percent of Americans.” Within a week, though, the doctors’ lobby was looking for some wiggle room.
In this segment, however, Rohack is not endorsing a public option. He’s endorsing a system of managed competition that provides members of Congress and other federal employees a choice of heavily regulated private insurance plans. In the FEHBP, the government is not the insurance provider as it would be in the case of a public option–and that’s a substantial difference.