Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell was on CBS News’ Face The Nation today, where he continued to call the Obama healthcare reform proposal government run healthcare, and he said that a public option is a non-starter on healthcare. McConnell claimed that America has the best healthcare in the world, but he offered no ideas to give more people access to healthcare.
McConnell first brought up the boogeyman of rationed care, “Well, let’s start at the beginning. They teach every first-semester medical student, “Do no harm.” And what the president did not talk about yesterday is his ambitious plan to have a government insurance plan, in effect, that essentially crowds out of the private market all the competition that we have among insurance companies today to have a national rationing board which would determine what kind of treatments would be available for American citizens.”
McConnell compared the president’s healthcare plan to the auto industry bailout, “We’ve seen a, kind of, version of that over in the auto takeover. You’ve got Ford Motor Company, which makes Ford vehicles in my hometown — it didn’t take any government money — now having to compete with a government-controlled General Motors acceptance corporation, trying to finance their cars in competition with the government financing company. And they’re having a hard time doing it. We know that, if the government gets in this business, pretty soon nobody else will be in the business.”
He also said that Republicans won’t support a public option, “I think that, for virtually every Republican, a government plan is a non-starter. There are a whole lot of other things we can agree to do on a bipartisan basis that will dramatically improve our system. But we already have the best health care in the world. We know it costs a lot, but we have the best health care in the world. And I don’t think many Americans want to start having to, you know, wait in line and start getting government permission for procedures. We need to be very careful about taking the wrong steps.”
McConnell followed the typical Republican talking point which is trying to divide the American people by turning the insured against the uninsured. McConnell’s talk of nationalization is nonsense, but he does tap into the debate on a public option, which is the sticking point, even among Democrats, on the issue of healthcare reform.
There are three problems that any healthcare reform plan must tackle. The plan must cover the uninsured, lower costs, and place healthcare decisions back into the hands of doctors and patients, not HMOs and accountants. Two of these goals can be accomplished without a public option. The public option is designed to provide coverage for those who can’t afford private insurance.
The Republican plan which is based around tax credits is fatally flawed because in order to obtain the tax credit, people first have to buy the insurance. What happens to the people who the insurance companies won’t insure, or the people who can’t afford to buy the policy in order to qualify for the tax credit?
In an ideal world, there would be agreement on a plan that would lower the costs for those with private insurance, while also providing coverage for the uninsured. McConnell’s statement that Obama wants to nationalize healthcare is scare tactic. There are legitimate questions about a public option, but it is almost a certainty that big changes are coming to healthcare.