Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., meanwhile, said he is wary that a public plan could make insurance reforms "a sham." His views carry weight because he is the Senate health committee's top Republican.
"It's important that the private market be involved, and not to set up the whole thing so it's a sham to compete with the government, so the government eventually can be the only supplier," Enzi said in a recent interview. "We are not going to do an expansion of Medicare. To use that as the model and try to make everybody compete with it would severely limit the market" [Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, "Government-run Plan Could Trip up Health Overhaul," AP via Yahoo News, 2009.03.06].
Now let me see if I'm reading that right: Senator Enzi worries that private insurers couldn't compete with an expanded Medicare. But competitive advantage comes from providing better products and services at lower prices, right?
A recent analysis by the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit group that sponsors health care research, is giving supporters of a public plan some ammunition.
The study estimated costs and coverage under a hypothetical health reform plan similar to what Obama proposed in the campaign. It found that a public plan like Medicare could reduce projected health care costs by about $2 trillion over an 11-year period. Premiums in the public plan would be at least 20 percent lower, partly because of reduced administrative costs. Within a decade or so, some 105 million people would be in the public plan, compared with about 107 million with private insurance [Alonso-Zaldivar, 2009.03.06].
$180 billion in annual savings. Premiums 20% lower. No wonder private insurers are worried. The last thing the profiteers want is for all Americans to have the chance to join the biggest, most efficient health insurance pool possible, a public pool that would save money and save lives.
But don't sweat it, free-market apologists. Real single-payer Canada-care is off the table. Not even President Obama can muster the courage to tell the insurance companies to drop dead. Grrr.