Considering Roy Blunt’s recent difficulty parsing the prescribed Republican talking points on the topic of health care reform, he probably ought to be a little more careful about what he says. During the same interview, when he tried to explain why he thinks that we should never have created Medicare, Medicaid, the Veterans Health administration, or SCHIP, poor ole’ Daddy Blunt actually came up with this gem on the topic of government providing its citizens with an insurance plan, the so-called public option:
A government competitor would drive all the other competitors away. What we should be doing is creating more competition. One of the reasons the marketplace doesn’t work the way it should work right now is we really don’t have the competitive marketplace that I’d like to see put in place.
My first thought was … What??? Isn’t the government just another competitor in this scenario? Isn’t competition supposed to be good? Why does more competition get Mr. Blunt so lathered up?
But then the light dawned. If I were to compete in a beauty contest, I too would certainly want to get rid of the best-looking competitors before the contest ever started. It is an indisputable fact that our private insurance system has provided inferior access to care at far greater cost than in any other developed nation–almost all of which have either public, or a combination of private and public insurance. So, as Mr. Blunt implicitly acknowledges, the private sector actually isn’t looking too good as far as that beauty contest goes.
What about a level playing field, you ask? I would respond that competition is all about leveling the playing field. If private insurers have to compete with the public option, then, to survive, they will have to offer a product that gives its subscribers better access to care while paring down their obscene profit margins. That is how competition should work–for the benefit of the consumer, not as Mr. Blunt seems to suppose, for the advantage of the medical industries and their congressional protectors.
Think I am not being fair? Just look at the the relationship between subsidies and competition that inspires Mr. Blunt to the point of incoherence. In the past he has supported the type of competition that makes big companies wealthy so that they can subsidize politicians who then, in turn, dip into the public till to provide big subsidies to these “private” companies. Just think back to the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, which instead of attempting to lower the costs of prescription drugs, gave us an unnecessarily complicated, high-overhead plan that used public funds to subsidize costs to drug companies. I don’t believe that Mr. Blunt worried too much about government subsidies back then.