Ezra Klein interviewed Lindsey Graham on health care, and the sense of entitlement in Graham’s answers is stunning. (Reformatted a bit for the blog)
Klein: The public option would be competing on a level playing field with private insurers, it’s limited in who can purchase it. Why can’t this be the compromise?
Graham: My belief is that no private-sector entity can survive over a long period of time competing against the government. The public option will be written by politicians. It will be generous. Nobody in my business worries about the bottom line. Eventually, the public option will dominate the marketplace because the political forces in the public sector are different than the economic forces in the private sector. Eventually, the private sector will give way.
That’s why Harvard folded once the University of Massachusetts was created, and someone must have forgotten to tell Sidwell Friends that they were supposed to fold in the face of Teh Public Schools. Thanks to the Land Ordinance of 1785 and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, we have had public education in this country since before the constitution, and yet private education has managed to somehow muddle through.
And then there’s this from The Distinguished Gentleman from South Carolina:
The basic problem with health care is this: Have you ever asked a doctor how much it costs to get a treatment? I haven’t either. You ever gone to a hospital and asked how much they charge for surgery? When I go to buy a car I go to four or five dealers. Somehow we gotta get people believing that once you pay the deductible it still matters how much money you spend. Third-party payment is unique to health care. It makes the consumer two or three steps removed from their purchase. Cost containment to me is trying to tie the consumer to the service.
Lindsey, I know too damn many people who go to the doctor, get a diagnosis, and ask "what will this cost me?" They can scrape together enough for an office visit and then some, but depending on what the doctor finds, "then some" may not be able to cover the treatment.
*Lots* of ordinary people ask about the cost. Others know the answer before they go, and therefore put off going at all. Maybe not you and your friends in Congress, maybe not the health care lobbyists who fill your campaign coffers, but trust me on this one: ordinary people ask about the cost a lot.
If you want to tie the cost to the consumer, Senator Graham, then abolish insurance completely. Starting with yours.