Robert Samuelson on the “Public Option”

by Don Boudreaux on October 26, 2009

in Health, Myths and Fallacies, Politics

Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson isn’t impressed with the “public option.”  Here’s a key paragraph:

The promise of the public plan is a mirage. Its political brilliance is to use free-market rhetoric (more “choice” and “competition”) to expand government power. But why would a plan tied to Medicare control health spending, when Medicare hasn’t? From 1970 to 2007, Medicare spending per beneficiary rose 9.2 percent annually compared to the 10.4 percent of private insurers — and the small difference partly reflects cost shifting. Congress periodically improves Medicare benefits, and there’s a limit to how much squeezing reimbursement rates can check costs. Doctors and hospitals already complain that low payments limit services or discourage physicians from taking Medicare patients.


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