Here is part 16 of a 20(!) part series analyzing and debating the President’s comments on health care reform at a Portsmouth, New Hampshire town hall:
THE PRESIDENT: Now, I recognize, though, you make a legitimate — you raise a legitimate concern. People say, well, how can a private company compete against the government? And my answer is that if the private insurance companies are providing a good bargain, and if the public option has to be self-sustaining — meaning taxpayers aren’t subsidizing it, but it has to run on charging premiums and providing good services and a good network of doctors, just like any other private insurer would do — then I think private insurers should be able to compete. They do it all the time.
Follow-up question: Mr. President, are you confident that current and future policymakers won’t try to give the public option advantages over private plans? Look at all the cases where that has happened:
- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac crowded out private firms in the mortgage securitization business because they had government-provided advantages.
- Only the government offers flood insurance, because private firms cannot compete.
- Only the government offers terrorism reinsurance above a certain amount, because private firms cannot compete.
- The Tennessee Valley Authority has no competitors, because the government has granted TVA market protections and advantages.
- You are proposing cutting Medicare payments to private plans that compete with the Medicare “public option.”
- Congressional Democrats argue that the government should save money by directly negotiating drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, a negotiation in which the government has most of the power.
- The Federal Housing Authority is crowding out private forms that offer mortgage insurance.
- The government is about to start crowding out private lenders who offer guaranteed student loans, in favor of direct student loans offered by the government.
Other posts in this series:
- The President’s overpromise that everyone can keep their health plan
- Putting the government in charge of your health insurance
- Waiting in line
- Government-mandated benefits
- Preventive care does not save money (in the aggregate)
- The House bill would increase short-term, 10th year, and long-term budget deficits
- The President was incorrect — AARP opposes the bill
- The bills would take Medicare savings needed for solvency and spend them on a new entitlement
- Medicare is not a good example of government-run health care because Medicare is fiscally unsustainable
- Even if the public option drops out of legislation, other parts of these bills would put private insurance under government control
- The President says the public option will keep private insurers honest at the same time he proposes cutting payments to private insurers competing with the Medicare public option
- The pending bills would move more cost-benefit decisions from insurers to people chosen by the government
- Guaranteed renewal and guaranteed issue
- The President says “we may be able to get even more than” the $80 B of budgetary savings that the pharmaceutical industry thought was a ceiling promised by the White House.
- The President says he’s not “promoting” a single-payer plan, but the only concern he raises is a disruptive transition.