Morgen on August 12, 2009 at 10:49 am
The President is making a concerted effort this week to tamp down the furor over his healthcare reform plan. Yet all he seems to be accomplishing is reinforcing the beliefs and arguments of his opponents. In fact, it’s becoming increasing difficult for non-partisan observers, and even supportive members of the media, to ignore the false or misleading statements he is making.
Over at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey does his usual superb job in breaking down a USA Today post fact-checking the President on his town hall meeting in New Hampshire yesterday. Conn Carroll over at The Heritage Foundation put together a great fact check as well.
But the analysis I found most interesting was a discussion forum over at Politico, where a moderator asked a panel of experts whether the public option is the first step towards a single-payer system. And while some of the respondents were clearly partisan, there were several academic experts on the panel. Take a look at some of their responses:
Many Democrats are on record saying that it IS the first step toward a government-run single payer-type system. President Obama, himself, has repeatedly expressed his support for a single payer system.
So it should be no surprise that Americans have come to think that the current legislation is a step toward single payer. Apparently many Democrats think that it is, and they are driving the bus.
– James G. Gimpel, Professor of Political Science, Maryland
By the way, it is worth noting the ridiculousness of the public option idea if it is intended as anything but the first step to a government-run, single payer system. The idea that a “government option” is needed to keep the industry honest or provide consumer choice is as nutty as suggesting that we need government-run restaurants and grocery stores to keep competition honest.
– Bradley A. Smith, Professor, election law and campaign finance
The public option is indeed a major step toward a government-run, single-payer system, as the result of scale economies in health insurance. But no, the current proposal is not the “first step.” The first, second, and third steps already happened long ago (Medicare being the most significant one). Government already runs a substantial chunk of health care, deciding via its control over the purse strings what procedures and which doctors many people go to. Some experts believe that the “tipping point” that would lead to major withdrawals by private insurers, and thus a near-total government control over the system, would occur at around a 60% government share, and we are already close to that point. The public option now being touted by President Obama likely would push us over the tipping point.
– Charles W. Calomiris, Professor of Financial Institutions, Columbia
Lest I be accused of only cherry-picking quotes supportive of my own position, take a look at what Robert Reich had to say on this question.
Critics say the public option is really a Trojan horse for a government takeover of all of health insurance. But nothing could be further from the truth. It’s an option. No one has to choose it. Individuals and families will merely be invited to compare costs and outcomes. Presumably they will choose the public plan only if it offers them and their families the best deal — more and better health care for less.
Private insurers say a public option would have an unfair advantage in achieving this goal, and therefore lead to single payer. Being the one public plan, it will have large economies of scale that will enable it to negotiate more favorable terms with pharmaceutical companies and other providers. But why, exactly, is this unfair?
– Robert B. Reich, Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley
“Nothing could be further from the truth”. Lol. To refute Professor Reich, here is one more “expert” who had something interesting to say about the public option recently. Take a look:
If a true public option is enacted — and Obama knows this — it will eventually bring about a single payer system, because the profit-making insurance companies won’t be able to compete with a government run plan and make the profits they want to make.
As support for the President continues to slip, I think it would be advisable for him to be a little more respectful of the views of his opponents. Especially when so many of his supporters are saying the same thing we are with regards to the public option. But I’m not holding my breath. So far this President has not demonstrated the degree of humility, and respect for traditional American values, that would be necessary for him to shift course. He’s taken a huge gamble in trying to enact comprehensive health reform legislation in the midst of a deep economic recession. And I think he’s going all in.