Sen. Grassley: No government health insurance option because the people would love it

This astonishing political gem from the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee — Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) — is a month old, but it’s too important to let pass (although most of the mainstream media seems to have done just that).

On Politico.com, Sen. Grassley wrote in an op-ed piece:

I’m concerned about a government-run plan that forces people out of private insurance.

What a specious argument! No one said anything about “force”!!! We’d be free to choose a private plan. The proposal would increase choice.

In this plan, the government would set the prices, determine which treatments are covered and control costs with a one-size-fits-all package.

As if hospitals and private insurance companies don’t do exactly that already! My father-in-law was billed $18,000 for one night of observation in the hospital — no treatment or diagnosis! Had he been insured, the insurance company would have negotiated the bill down to a few thousand dollars. The insured today have zero ability to “set the prices” or “control costs.” And the uninsured are abused by hospitals.

And “one-size-fits-all” would be far superior to the frequent arbitrary denial of coverage to “insured” people, as documented in Michael Moore’s “Sicko” and elsewhere.

As many as 119 million Americans would shift from private coverage to the government plan and put America on the path toward a completely government-run health care system.

No one is proposing or wants “a completely government-run health care system.” That’s another totally bogus claim intended to scare us! You could still buy private insurance if a government option is provided to compete with private plans. And high-quality doctors will still be free to charge higher prices and to not treat those with government-provided insurance.

Cost shifting already happens in Medicare and Medicaid. Doctors and hospitals are already paid less by public programs. They make up the difference by passing the costs onto their other patients.

If more people entered public plans, even more doctors would stop seeing Medicare, Medicaid and government plan patients.

Healthcare prices (at least their official prices, called chargemaster list prices) today are many times higher than healthcare providers' costs and many times higher than prices in other countries! If government monopsony power is the only force that can restrain the outrageous prices charged by monopolistic hospitals and drug companies, then let’s do what every other industrialized country on the planet does and let the government pay for everyone’s basic health coverage. Will doctors and hospital executives starve if they’re paid “only” what Medicare and Medicaid pay? (As an example, the CEO of our local “non-profit” Stamford Hospital makes $1.5 million a year in salary and benefits.)

Employers, especially small businesses, would stop offering coverage since they would be able to tell employees to get their coverage from the government plan.

Eventually, the government plan would overtake the entire market.

Grassley’s bottom line: We can’t provide a government health insurance option because it would be so popular that 119 million insured Americans would switch to it! And small businesses — unshackled from the burden of providing extremely expensive small group insurance coverage — would thrive.

Add in the 45 million or so uninsured Americans and HALF THE COUNTRY wants to join a government health insurance plan!

Even worse, says Grassley, a government health insurance option would bring down medical costs!

We all know that Senators and their big business campaign bankrollers view as problems what the American people overwhelmingly see as solutions. But something is truly sick in Washington, DC when a senior Senator is so out-of-touch that he thinks he can convince anyone to oppose a government health insurance option by issuing a statement so full of lies and red herrings.

Posted by James on Saturday, June 06, 2009