As previously noted, yesterday the Center for American Progress released its platform for altering entitlements. In fairness, the paper does include some conservative ideas, most notably additional means-testing for Medicare beneficiaries. But mainly the report demonstrates the fundamental difference between conservatives and liberals: Not only do liberals not believe in markets, they don’t understand (and/or don’t want to understand) how markets actually work.
Take for instance the CAP proposals that will supposedly “enhance competition based on price and quality,” such as the idea to “require health insurance exchanges to offer tiered insurance plans.” On the face of it, the idea sounds reasonable enough – encourage plans to lower premiums by offering a variety of choices. But the catch here – as in the rest of the CAP proposals – is that “competition” is government-defined, government-mandated, and government-prescribed. For instance, if insurers want to offer, and patients want to purchase, less expensive insurance coverage that doesn’t cover all of Obamacare’s mandated benefits – and/or insurance purchased across state lines – both CAP and Obamacare would tax those who gain coverage through such means, because this “competition” is prohibited in liberals’ new health care utopia.
Then there’s the fact that the CAP report also includes numerous other proposals that involve expanding prescription drug price controls in various forms. One may find it ironic – and ever-so-slightly contradictory – that a report supposedly focused on “enhanc[ing] competition” simultaneously expands government-dictated price controls.
Finally, CAP’s proposals for “competitive bidding” seem little short of comical for their ideologically-based hypocrisy. The paper states that Congress should “use competitive bidding for Medicare Advantage” – but then just as quickly states that government-run Medicare itself should not compete. And why doesn’t CAP want government-run Medicare to compete against private plans? Because a paper co-authored by one of CAP’s own scholars released in September found that in many parts of the country, traditional Medicare can’t compete – it’s far too costly. The study, outlined in an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that private plans would be 9% cheaper than traditional Medicare under a competitive bidding proposal.
Mind you, the Left has no problems forcing seniors to pay more for private Medicare Advantage coverage, or forcing them out of their plans entirely – Obamacare’s cuts to the program will ensure both outcomes. But when it comes to competitive bidding for government-run Medicare itself, CAP and others on the Left want nothing to do with such an idea, clinging instead to the shibboleth of government-run Medicare as a first step towards socialized medicine for all. And that hypocrisy – competition for thee, but not for me – explains in a nutshell why liberal ideas such as those in the CAP paper are both unrealistic and ideologically dangerous.