Idealism Over People: What The Health Care Debate Tells Us About Conservative Priorities

Via Politico

…McConnell suggested there were areas in which Republicans won’t compromise, particularly the creation of a new public insurance program to compete with private insurers.

“Forcing free market plans to compete with these government-run programs would create an unlevel playing field and inevitably doom true competition,” the letter stated. […]

McConnell’s letter was signed by Sens. Charles Grassley of Iowa, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and Orrin Hatch of Utah.

Is anyone really surprised? In a free market economy that Republicans allegedly promote, the market would be open to whoever provided the best product or service. But as Bill Kristol pointed out in his famous 1994 health care memo, universal health care is dangerous to the conservative agenda because it would actually work, thus proving that the Government can provide better commodities than the private sector in many important cases.

The problem with McConnell’s rejection of free market competition, that socialist bastard, is that it undermines the entire foundation of the Republican party. Small government, because the private sector can do it better. You might recognize this meme from the debates you have with your Republican friends when they argue against critical social programs. “It’s not that I’m against helping the poor, I just think the private sector can do it better.” Nope, they don’t. This is merely a convent argument they use which allows them to sidestep the horrible moral implications of their beliefs. That having a small government is the most important end, even if millions and millions of people are harmed in the process.

NOTE: If Conservatives think the private sector would provide better service than a public insurer, then shouldn’t they be encouraging competition between the two?

NOTE II: David Sirota totally agrees with me.

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6 thoughts on “Idealism Over People: What The Health Care Debate Tells Us About Conservative Priorities

  1. Actually, you’re both right.

    Government health insurance would be unfair competition for private insurance – especially since the taxes the private companies would pay would help fund their competition.

    On the other hand, that same ability to levy taxes on the rich allows the government to offer a service to a broader swath of the population than the private sector can do.

    You might want to review the problems that Hawaii and Massachusetts have both had with the state healthcare systems though…

    • All universal health care systems are not the same. Hawaii and Massachusetts have different universal health care compared to each other and compared to the version the federal government is likely to use.

      But aside from that Hawaii and Massachusetts might be having problems, but their problems pale in comparison to the problems being face by the federal government because of our lack of a universal system. Plus, problems or not, Hawaii and Mass have both achieved near universal levels of coverage which is the ultimate goal

    • I’m replying to your post twice because you brought up two points that merit their own response.

      On the issue of fairness, Republicans are equivocating with the word fairness. Is it not “fair” because the government has more resources and would do a better job or is it not “fair” because the government is using taxpayer dollars to fund their program.

      The heart of the debate lies on the first point. Republicans claim the sheer massiveness of the government prevents them from providing personalized services to individuals. But thats just a talking point based on the conservative world of “I wish it were so.” In reality we know that the universal systems around the world routinely outperform the fractured US system in several quality and coverage standards around the world. Republicans, who are ideologically opposed to government action regardless of the efficacy, know this and oppose it out of ideology and political tactics. One thing we know for sure, is that the current private system doesn’t work.

      On the issue of fairness to business, who cares. I know thats a bit harsh, but this problem was created because private insurers rely on business models that screw people over instead of providing coverage. if health insurers didn’t use egregious strong arm tactics like jacking up the price of premiums , denying coverage to loyal customers, and drive up the price of treatment, then the public and business world wouldn’t be pushing so hard for a universal health care system.

      If private insurers were smart, they would work with democrats to pass a universal health care system that would actually increase their profits. France, Germany, and the United Kingdom provide excellent examples of this. In these universal health care countries, the private insurance market is thriving because they work with the government.

  2. Phil,

    Hawaii had to shut down their program due to lack of funds and the fact that people were dropping their private insurance to go onto the state healthcare rolls.

    • Jonolan

      You can’t compare the federal government and a state.

      1. The federal government doesn’t run out of money, doesn’t have to balance the budget, and can deficit spend.

      2. The federal government has a larger pool of buyers. This is important because one of the principle benefits of a universal system is that it would allow the government to pool the buying power of 300 million consumers in order to negotiate better rates on both services, medicines, and medical products.

      3. As I said before, universal health care is a general description not a specific policy proposal. You can’t use the “failure” of one universal health care system against the failures of another system because there’s a good chance they’re not the same system.

      For example, the universal health care system in France is substantially different than the system in Germany, than the system in the UK, than the system in Canada. That’s four countries with universal health care systems that aren’t even remotely similar to one another.

      4. Dropping private insurers in favor of a public insurer isn’t a problem, its the free market. Hence our discussion comes full circle.

      In the free market, competition moves consumers to the best provider of a service or a good. If private insurers refuse to provide a competitive product then there they will lose business, as the free market intends them to do.

      Bottom line , there is no excuse for opposing a public insurers entrance into a free market. If a public insurer can provide better cheaper coverage then capitalism dictates they should get our business. Competition wins and people get better health insurance.

      Any argument regarding fairness to private insurers, while unpersuasive, is worth listening to, but should be called out for what it really is. Favoring the profit of insurance companies over both the free market AND the health of the American public.

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