But critics argue that with low administrative costs and no need to produce profits, a public plan will start with an unfair pricing advantage. They say that if a public plan is allowed to pay doctors and hospitals at levels comparable to Medicare’s, which are substantially below commercial insurance rates, it could set premiums so low it would quickly consume the market.
Taplin makes the obvious point:
So let me get this straight. It’s not fair to have a public option because they don’t have to make obscene profits for their shareholders and they can use the leverage of the combined group of medicare and public option customers to negotiate better fees with doctors, hospitals and drug companies.
Isn’t that the point?
I support a public option for one reason and one reason only: I think it would save money. But then again, I’m one of those hard-line dirty hippies who believes in pinko things like cost-benefit analysis.
Sometimes, I think it would be easier to be one of those wooly-headed conservatives who dreams of a private solution or a Villager seeing visions of bipartisan peace and love:
Bennett, who is not on the committee, underlined that determination, telling me “we will fight almost to the last man and woman against a government-run plan, and not a few Democrats will join us.”
Wyden, careful to preserve his credentials within his own party, said he saw this fight as more of a broad philosophical debate about the role and scope of government, but he reminded me that his bill last year did not include a government-sponsored plan.
The time may come — either before or after the House votes on its bill — when Obama may have to demonstrate his flexibility on the issue of a government-run option. Wyden and Bennett are potential allies if he removes what Bennett calls “the rock” blocking a bipartisan bill. And the president couldn’t wish for better partners.
But maybe all this talk about health care is a mistake. Maybe getting love studies into our universities would cure all of our problems (from a particularly disturbing Brooks musing):
The most important decision any of us make is who we marry. Yet there are no courses on how to choose a spouse. There’s no graduate department in spouse selection studies. Institutions of higher learning devote more resources to semiotics than love.
The most important talent any person can possess is the ability to make and keep friends. And yet here too there is no curriculum for this.
When did conservatives become such hopeless daydream believers? I thought they were all tough-minded realists who saw through all the hippie utopianism. I thought they’d been mugged by reality.
Maybe they have been mugged by reality, and their response was to retreat from it.