MEDICARE REFORM….Medicare reform update: the Republicans want more private sector involvement and the Democrats want more government involvement. Answer: add $6 billion for a private sector pilot program and $6 billion for expanded government benefits. Everyone wins!

Well, that’s Washington. But I have a hard time choking down a laugh when Republicans continue to talk about “private sector” and “cost containment” in the same sentence while keeping a straight face. Boy, that’s sure worked for the past 50 years, hasn’t it? You’d think that since we have both the greatest private sector involvement in healthcare in the industrialized world and the highest cost of healthcare in the industrialized world, someone might begin to think that maybe the private sector isn’t the greatest idea around when it comes to healthcare cost containment. But ideology marches on.

In fact, apparently the free market forces don’t even believe their own rhetoric:

Under the emerging compromise, $6 billion would be used to set up the pilot project to allow private health plans to compete for Medicare business in certain regions without being restrained by a federal cap on prices.

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), a leader of conservative critics, said that would give free-market advocates a “toehold” in the program.

Um, guys, if private health plans are supposed to keep prices down, why are they worried about being “restrained” by price caps? That was the same thing we Californians heard from the electricity companies a few years ago, and that really didn’t work out so well for us….

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