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Moran on Fed. Employee Health Care, Public Option

By Ed O'Keefe
James Moran
Rep. James Moran (D-Va.)

Rep. James Moran (D-Va.) defended the infamous "public option" during a live discussion on Thursday, following a raucous town hall meeting with constituents on Tuesday about health care.

He entertained a few questions about the public and private sector worth calling out here:

Arlington, Va.: In what real-world concrete example has the involvement of a government or quasi-government agency as a participating entity led to actual competition and a lowering of costs and not the development of a monopoly? If you cannot cite any examples, how do you know that such a lowering of costs will actually occur?

Rep. Jim Moran: Since the early 1990's there has been an effort to enable the private sector to compete with the federal govt in nearly every area of service provision. This has especially been the case within the Defense Department. There were more private contractors in Iraq than federal military and civilian personnel. And yet while there are some very conscientious military contractors that I am proud to work with, the firms like Halliburton, Black Water, Aegis and a number of others have charged the govt considerably more than the in-house cost of the same service and have been responsible for the most egregious abuses of America's values and principles.

No private insurance system would provide the care that is provided our wounded warriors through the VA system. Nor have we ever been able to protect our national land and recreation areas as well as the national park service has. There needs to be a balance between the public and private sectors in my opinion and the anti-govt vitriol that has accompanied this health care debate is less than constructive.

Roanoke, Va.: To show how connected you are to your constituents, will you vote to have you and your fellow Congressmen participate in the proposed health-care reform? In other words, you will be in the same boat as we are. Also, why is it politically difficult to address tort reform?

Rep. Jim Moran: Members of Congress participate in the same federal employees health plan that is available to all federal employees. I pay several thousand dollars per year out of pocket for insurance, as do most Americans. The exchange that is included in legislation is modeled after the system that we have. It will provide a greater choice of insurance plans than most people today have available to them. And because of the increased competition the premiums will probably be lower and the annual rate of increase will be slower than is currently the case.

Read the full chat with Rep. Moran here.

By Ed O'Keefe  | August 27, 2009; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Congress  
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This piece clearly torpedos two of the most outrageous myths being shouted from the rafters by the most vitriolic opponents of healthcare reform:
1) That White House and Congressional officeholders have some "special" healthcare package that no one else can get. It turns out they all have the very same package and options as my wife has here in Huntington, WV, as a federal employee out in the provinces. No better, no worse.
2) That government agencies do very well administering certain sectors, very likely far better than private companies might do. The adventure in having private companies run for-profit prisons, for instance, has been a near disaster, from what I've seen. And it seems highly unlikely that any private firm could take over the VA and run it better than it currently is being run under the federal government. We never EVER should have shelled out the billions we did to Halliburton and Black Water in Iraq. The Army Corps of Engineers could have done Halliburton's work better and more cost effectively. And there's no question the U.S. Marines could have done Blackwater's work better and with far fewer flukes and scandals.
The administrative costs of Medicare under federal auspices run 3 per cent of the budget. Private insurance companies' admin costs run from 15 to 20 per cent of their budgets. Do the math.
John Patrick Grace
Huntington, West Virginia

Posted by: publishersplace | August 28, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

This is a clear example of what ideas can be exchanged when there is a calm and meaningful dialog instead of the current hateful, irrational, emotion-filled rancor or personal attacks that have characterized recent meetings. A big thank you to all the participants.

Posted by: last2makesense | August 28, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

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