Washington Post Makes Up Competition In the Insurance Market

It’s amazing how far the conservative Washington Post editorial board will go to deny the fact. Here is the blatant falsehood from their editorial today (emphasis mine):

More disappointing was Mr. Obama’s restated commitment to a public health insurance option as part of the array of available plans. A public plan is not necessary to maintain a competitive market in health insurance, but including a public plan is almost certain to doom what Mr. Obama says are his hopes for a bipartisan agreement. Given the high stakes involved in an overhaul of this magnitude, it would be unfortunate indeed if health reform were to be a one-party endeavor.

Here you’ve got a conservative lie and a inside-the-Beltway platitude all rolled into one. Let’s take them piece by piece.

First, the Washington Post editorial board actually believes there is a competitive insurance market right now to maintain, and that a public plan isn’t necessary to keep that competition up?

Do the Washington Post editors read their own paper? Because they published a story via the Associated Press (now offline) on Health Care for America Now’s report showing there is no competition between health insurers. In most states, insurance markets are dominated by one or two insurers, and the Justice Department feels they are at risk for monopolies. That is not a “competitive market in health insurance.” Clearly, the Washington Post editorial board wants to deny the facts.

Or maybe they just want to keep the status quo. They imply by their word “maintain” that we have a market they like right now. Maybe the Washington Post editorial board wants to see the insurance industry continue raking in money hand-over-fist using their near-monopoly powers. Maybe that constitutes a competitive market in their minds.

Next, the Washington Post editorial board goes on to say they’d rather have a bipartisan health care plan than one with a public health insurance option to do important things like control costs and provide better health care. In other words, they’d rather see health reform in name only than health reform that actually means anything, another vote in favor of the status quo, where one American every 30 seconds files for bankruptcy due to high health care costs.

Robert Creamer has a bit of a history lesson on the fallacy of bipartisanship:

Of course you never heard a word about “bi-partisanship” from the insurance industry or Republicans when they passed the notorious “Medicare Part D” prescription drug plan in 2003. Back then, they froze Democrats out of all negotiations, and passed the bill on a 220 to 215 vote in the House (with only 16 Democrats voting yes). In fact, Medicare Part D would be their idea of a “good” health care “reform”: taxpayer subsidies for private insurers with no competition from a public plan. And if we went that route, the results of health care reform would look pretty much like the results of Part D as well – no cost control, giant gaps in coverage, and confusing options for consumers.

Now that the political tide has turned, and last year’s economic collapse has given voters a fresh lesson in the consequences of turning public policy over to corporate CEOs and insurance giants like AIG, the Republicans and insurance companies have had an eleventh-hour conversion to the benefits of “bipartisanship” when it comes to health care reform.

It’s no surprise then that in the current debate, the advocates of this position have made it clear that, to them, “bi-partisanship” means one thing: Americans should be denied the choice of a public health insurance option like Medicare. Their problem is that while a public health insurance option may not have bi-partisan support in Congress, it has big time bi-partisan support among the voters.

He also points out, a public health insurance plan has bipartisan support among the people, whether it has it in Congress or not:

A poll conducted earlier this year by the highly respected Lake Research Partners found that voters overwhelmingly want everyone to have a choice of private health insurance or a public health insurance plan (73%), while just 15% prefer everyone having private health insurance.

And the preference for a choice between public and private health insurance plans extends across all demographic and partisan groups, including Democrats (77%), Independents (79%) and Republicans (63%). So in fact, President Obama’s proposal that creates a choice of a public health insurance option is a bi-partisan plan – whether is has “bi-partisan” support in Congress or not.

The Obama plan for health care reform has massive bi-partisan support throughout the United States. Let’s get busy making sure that it becomes the law of the land whether the insurance companies and the Republicans in Congress support it or not.

It doesn’t matter if this thing is bipartisan, because just being bipartisan doesn’t mean it helps the American people. That’s the bottom line. It needs to be good for you and me. If Republicans want to play ball and pass something real, great. If they don’t, it’s more important to get health reform than to get a bipartisan bill. But of course, the beltway insiders at the Washington Post disagree.

Why don’t you take a moment and write them a letter to the editor. Explain how their facts are wrong and how their inside-the-beltway attitude is hurting this country in the fight for real health care reform. Email your letter to letters@washpost.com.

About the Author: Jason Rosenbaum is a writer and musician currently residing in Washington D.C. He is interested in the intersection of politics and culture, media consolidation issues, and making sense out of our foreign policy disasters. He currently works for Health Care for America Now and he is also the webmaster for The Seminal.

This article originally appeared in Health Care for America Now! on June 8, 2009. Re-printed with permission by the author.

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.