Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt writes today (10/26/09) on the fear that the public option is a backdoor effort to bring a single-payer system to the United States:
Private companies would have to raise their rates, so more people would choose the public plan, so private rates would rise further–and we could end up with only the public option and no competition at all. Single-payer national health insurance may be the best outcome, but we should get there after an honest debate, not through the back door.
Post columnist Robert Samuelson on the same theme, also today:
Many would say: Whoopee! Get rid of the sinister insurers. Bring on a single-payer system. But if that's the agenda, why not debate it directly? It's not insurers that cause high health costs; they're simply the middlemen. It's the fragmented delivery system and open-ended reimbursement. Would strict regulation of doctors, hospitals and patients under a single-payer system provide control? Or would genuine competition among health plans over price and quality work better?
That's the debate we need, but in truth, doctors, hospitals and patients don't want to be limited, whether by government or markets. Congress reflects public opinion. Fearing a real debate, we fake it.
Well, this is good news.One of these guys should speak to an editor at the paper to encourage more op-eds on single payer, which has faced a virtual blackout in the corporate media debate (FAIR Media Advisory, 3/6/09). Maybe Fred Hiatt could speak to the person who runs the opinion pages at the Washington Post; after all, what better place to encourage a Washington debate?
Wait–isn't that Hiatt's job?