The ‘very clear advantages’ of a public plan

THE ‘VERY CLEAR ADVANTAGES’ OF A PUBLIC PLAN…. Yet another liberal Democratic lawmaker, anxious for real health care reform, explained recently that a public option would offer significant cost savings, is “designed to save money,” and has some “very clear advantages.” This is all true, of course, but it’s an assessment we’ve heard before.

But what’s interesting about these comments is that they didn’t really come from a liberal Democratic lawmaker, but rather a conservative Republican — Rep. John Kline (R) of Minnesota, who opposes a public option. Here’s Kline talking to Minnesota Public Radio’s Tom Crann about the health care reform effort. (via MN Progressive Project)

KLINE: …[T]here are some things in this legislation that I find particularly troublesome.

CRANN: Such as…

KLINE: Well, the public option. The so-called public option. The proponents of the legislation say you need a public option to foster competition. But the way it’s being set up, the playing field will be increasingly tilted towards the public option. We’ve seen studies already that say up to 23 million Americans would very rapidly be moved from the insurance that they have into the public option. There are …

CRANN: Isn’t the public option primarily for the currently uninsured now?

KLINE: Well [chuckles] that’s the, that’s the claim in many cases of the proponents, but our fear is that if you actually get in there looking at the legislation that it’s set up in a way that employers would increasingly opt to letting their employees move over to the public, to the public option. And because it is cheaper, it’s designed to save money, the government-run program has some very clear advantages, and the claims that it’s gotta pay for itself that through the first three years of this there would be government subsidies.”

Usually, Republican House members are far better at using scare tactics. Indeed, as arguments against the public option go, Kline’s nightmarish vision of a cost-effective program with “very clear advantages” doesn’t sound scary at all.

Brian Beutler added, Early indications suggest that the public option will much more than pay for itself. But no matter. I assume that public opinion polling must show overwhelmingly that Americans want to pay more for health care so that insurance companies don’t have to contend with a superior, cheaper competitor. Otherwise it’s hard to understand Kline’s statements anything other than a call to subsidize insurance companies — and no elected official would ever stand for that.”