Taxpayers should beware of the new role that the Senate healthcare bill gives to the Office of Personnel Management. Last week, Bob Moffit, a former senior official at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, spoke at the Bloggers Briefing, a weekly policy discussion hosted by the Heritage Foundation. Moffit spoke about the “public option in drag” that Democrats included in the Senate bill.

OPM is the federal government agency that is responsible for managing salary, benefits and pensions for the federal government workforce. Currently, the OPM’s role is to oversee competition between health plans and act as an “honest broker.” Federal employees are free to choose from a wide range of healthcare plans. However, the Senate health bill changes the role of the OPM so that it will become a “healthcare sponsor” of about two plans which will compete against private plans offered in every state. The Senate bill also grants the OPM the ability to set rates and benefits which can eventually drive out private insurers.
The OPM’s job is to oversee health plans and manage the civilian workforce, not set premiums. Taxpayers should not be fooled into believing that there is not a public option in the Senate bill. The expansive new role of the OPM will be dramatic and costly to taxpayers.