Like many federal efforts in Washington, last week’s reintroduction from House Democrats to create a public health insurance option, which would become part of the 2014 insurance exchanges created by Obamacare, is a bureaucratic redundancy. Stuart Butler points out that the health reform law already has its own “public option” through expanded powers to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Calling the House bill a “smokescreen” for the nation’s opposition against a public option, Butler says the real story is in the “OPM alternative.” “Far from being an alternative, it is the fast road to a public plan — as I warned before the legislation passed. Why? Because the ‘alternative’ gives the OPM the power to establish national plans. These are to be private — but in name only.”

With “enormous reserve powers,” the federal government would be able to set premiums that would drive other private health insurers out of the market, leaving Americans with no choice but to enroll in the government-mandated health plan.