A "level playing field?"

Some are claiming that consumers need to know they can buy the same health plan anywhere in the country. By having a public plan offering coverage nationally they would be able to change jobs, move to a different state and still keep their current coverage. I accept that this would be a nice situation, but it certainly isn’t a strong reason for a public plan, given the risk that step entails. The temptation to tip the playing field in favor of government programs is simply too tempting for lawmakers. Already on the table is allowing tax credits to make premiums more affordable (incredibly, even for families earning up to 500% of the poverty level, or about $110,000/year).

The simple fact is, without a level playing field, a government-run plan will eventually — not the first year, maybe not the fifth, but eventually — drive private carriers out of the market. If that’s what Congress and the Obama Administration want to do, they should just say so. But if they are sincere about preserving private options for Americans, then they need to tread carefully. Creating a public plan just so consumers can keep the exact same plan when they move to a new state is simply not worth the danger.