GUEST COMMENTARY: Dean fails to offer viable solution
During his trip to our University on Monday, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said’ ‘the government already runs health care for everyone over the age of 65.’
It’s true, and the government is certainly doing a bang-up job; according to the 2009 Medicare Trustees Report published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Medicare system will be bankrupt by 2017.
President Barack Obama claims that provisions for huge cost savings in Medicare will be attached to a health care bill he wants to sign, one of which would be a public option. If the government truly believes it can manage the health care of millions of Americans, why not fix Medicare first in order to prove that it is up to the task?
Dean gave the standard spiel about choice and competition ‘- things he rarely favors in other policy areas.
He also said, ‘If you allow people to choose Medicare who are under 65, that is going to force insurance companies to provide as good a price as Medicare (would).’
Notice that he said ‘force,’ which is more in line with his ideology. The Medicare system pays doctors and hospitals pennies on the dollar for the services they provide.
Expanding the program could further exacerbate low doctor-to-patient ratios and edge out money used by hospitals for medical research. Whether insurance companies would go out of business seems to be up in the air, but if a health care bill eats into the profits of health insurance companies, they surely will not be the only ones to take a hit.
Workers all over the United States have investments in health insurance companies as part of their retirement savings, and they would find their assets eroded as a result of an expanding federal government. Concurrently, federal debt will grow, and Treasury securities will look increasingly unattractive to investors.
In his inaugural presidential address, Ronald Reagan declared, ‘In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.’
Sadly, neither Obama nor Dean will ever hold this opinion.
Steven Christopher is an economics senior and may be reached at [email protected]