Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lieberman Logic

Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut) won’t support a public option under any circumstances. He said “It's going to cost the taxpayers and people that have health insurance now, and if it doesn't, it's going to add terribly to our national debt.”

But presumably, Lieberman supports expanding coverage. I fail to see how expanding coverage simply by providing subsidies to purchase private insurance will help our serious deficit situation. If Lieberman is really serious about making sure that the millions of uninsured and underinsured purchase adequate insurance, then that will cost plenty of money.

In fact, it might cost more. With the public option, the government can make an effort to keep costs under control. Private insurers will have no incentive to do so. They’ll get money from the government no matter what. If Lieberman wants to end discrimination for preexisting conditions and enact other reforms to protect consumers, then private insurance will cost more. Who will be paying those premiums? The government and the taxpayer.

If anything is going to expand the deficit that will. Granted, Medicare has problems that must be addressed. But instead of using those problems to preclude the possibility of more government involvement in healthcare, why not try and reform it? Some of you readers think that will be more difficult than I’m claiming. But if Lieberman can reform the private insurance market, why can he not reform a government program?

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