Fred Hiatt seems to really want to drive the Washington Post’s circulation down to zero so that the company can focus on its core competency in standardized test preparation. He wrote a column complaining that it’s a bad idea to rely on a public option to reduce health care costs, because including a public option can (through magic?) prevent congress from adopting other cost control measures. Not only does this not make sense, but as OMB Director Peter Orszag observes, Hiatt seems unaware of what’s actually happening on the Hill:
Fred Hiatt in today’s Washington Post is the latest of these naysayers, writing in his column that the two biggest steps that can be taken to reduce the rate of health care cost growth — changes in health care’s tax treatment and an independent Medicare commission — are missing. I agree with Hiatt on the potential substantial benefits in terms of cost containment from these two changes. But a note to readers who have not read their Washington Post the past few weeks: the Senate Finance Committee bill includes both of these measures.
Cost-control is important. The House’s approach to cost-control is focused on a robust public option. That’s a good idea. The Senate’s approach focuses on the excise tax concept and the independent Medicare commission. Those are also good ideas. The final bill should include all three. There’s no reason to deride the public option as your means of praising the other ideas.