Writing in the New York Times this morning, Paul Krugman’s column hits the usual Krugman-esque notes. The column, entitled “The Medicare Killers,” is liberal. As you can tell from its title, the column is hyperbolically over-the-top. And it’s also flat-out WRONG. The most obviously false statement is his unequivocal declaration that not a shred of evidence exists that private plans can deliver Medicare benefits more efficiently than the federal government:
Wouldn’t private insurers reduce costs through the magic of the marketplace? No. All, and I mean all, the evidence says that public systems like Medicare and Medicaid, which have less bureaucracy than private insurers (if you can’t believe this, you’ve never had to deal with an insurance company) and greater bargaining power, are better than the private sector at controlling costs.
As Bill Clinton might say, the accuracy of that statement depends solely upon what the meaning of the word “all” is. Because a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association just this month found that private plans would “bid an average of 9% below traditional Medicare costs” under a premium support model. Which might explain why other liberals at the Center for American Progress are now – disingenuously – advancing the exact opposite of Krugman’s argument: that seniors would have to pay more to stay in government-run Medicare.
So either Paul Krugman doesn’t know his facts, or he doesn’t want to know his facts – because he would rather keep making claims about government-run Medicare’s “efficiency” that he knows to be wrong. Either way, it’s a sad statement that Krugman and his allies would have to stoop so low to defend the indefensible – and unsustainable – status quo.