Monday, August 17, 2009

Why The "Public Option" Is Doomed, Even if It Does Pass

Via Avedon, BDBlue, on Corrente, struck a winner the other day (and, oh, by the way, here's a citizen with whom I could share a brew)...BDBlue sez:
Here's how Obama described how the public option will affect private insurers:
He said an audience member raised a "legitimate concern" about how a government-run health-care program might affect private insurers.

"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."

Then he invoked the Postal Service:

"I mean, if you think about it, UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right? No, they are. It's the post office that's always having problems."

That comment provoked laughter from the audience.
...(S)o the public option will be like the United States Postal Service.

It will be constantly undermined by elected officials who insist it compete with private companies as an "equal" even as they ensure that the private companies get all the really lucrative customers and the postal service gets stuck with all the thankless, unprofitable work that requires them to drive every back road in this country to deliver a letter for less than 50 cents while also giving deep discounts to help mail-based business, regardless of whether such deliveries or discounts make sense from a business perspective.*

And the Postal Service is expected to do all of this while the Government insists it do things that none of its private competitors have to do (such as prepay future retiree health benefits).

Then when the public option, like the Postal Service, cannot win its race against private companies blindfolded with its legs tied together, it will be mocked by the President of the United States.** That does sound like a good plan.

What could go wrong? Well, for starters, this losing set up has led the Postal Service to repeatedly raise rates in recent years (since "deregulation" started under Carter) and threaten to cut back services to the poor people who can't afford to spend $25 dollars to FedEx a letter to their mother in Bumfuck, Idaho. That's what this public option competing against private carriers has gotten us - a service that costs more and provides less for the neediest among us.

...The Postal Service is not an example of why private companies are better than public ones or how they can compete with the government successfully when we're talking about a core government service. It's an example of how far the government is willing to go to hamstring itself from doing its job so that a handful of companies can make more money at the expense of Americans who depend on a government service.

That's exactly how I expect any public option to work, thank you Mr. President for being honest about that, which is why I won't support it.
PS: The Sept. Harper's came today. These are the first three items in the Index:
Percentage change since 2002 in the average premiums paid to largye US health-insurance companies: + 87.

Percentage change in the profits of the top ten insurance companies: + 428.

Chance that an American bankrupted by medical bills had/has health insurance: 7 in 10.
This whole thing is a fucking kabuki, full of stern faces and high, screechy notes...

1 comment:

The Future Was Yesterday said...

["This whole thing is a fucking kabuki, full of stern faces and high, screechy notes..."]
I concur. This "health plan" Barak Bush offers scares the hell out of me.

But then so does Barak Bush, and I was fool enough (again) to vote for him.