Blunt: The ‘Government Should Have Never’ Started Medicare And Medicaid

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"Blunt: The ‘Government Should Have Never’ Started Medicare And Medicaid"

On the conservative Missouri radio station Eagle 93.9 yesterday, Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) was asked to describe “the proper role for government” in America’s health care system. “Well, you could certainly argue that government should have never gotten into the health care business,” responded Blunt.

Blunt then listed off Medicaid and Medicare as examples of how government got into “the health care business in a big way”:

HOST MIKE FERGUSON: What is the proper role of government, and what are the potential impacts of the direction that we’re going right now?

BLUNT: Well, you could certainly argue that government should have never have gotten in the health care business, and that might have been the best argument of all, to figure out how people could have had more access to a competitive marketplace.

Government did get into the health care business in a big way in 1965 with Medicare, and later with Medicaid, and government already distorts the marketplace.

Listen here:

In a 2005 Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 83 percent of respondents called Medicare a very important government program while 74 percent said Medicaid was very important.

Though Blunt argues that “what we should be doing is creating more competition,” his opposition to a public plan undermines more competition. As former Gov. Howard Dean said, “why not keep the insurance companies operating in a more consumer-friendly way and give the people a choice? That’s what competition is all about — it’s giving people choices to do what’s in their best interest.” And as President Obama said recently, if insurance companies do a good job, they have nothing to fear:

Why would it drive private insurance out of business? If — if private — if private insurers say that the marketplace provides the best quality health care; if they tell us that they’re offering a good deal, then why is it that the government, which they say can’t run anything, suddenly is going to drive them out of business? That’s not logical.

And neither is Roy Blunt.

Transcript:

HOST MIKE FERGUSON: What is the proper role of government, and what are the potential impacts of the direction that we’re going right now?

BLUNT: Well, you could certainly argue that government should have never have gotten in the health care business, and that might have been the best argument of all, to figure out how people could have had more access to a competitive marketplace.

Government did get into the health care business in a big way in 1965 with Medicare, and later with Medicaid, and government already distorts the marketplace.

A government competitor would drive all the other competitors away. What we should be doing is creating more competition. One of the reasons the marketplace doesn’t work the way it should work right now is we really don’t have the competitive marketplace that I’d like to see put in place.

I’d like to see people have many more options, instead of fewer options. The option, for instance, to continue to get insurance at work, but also take that same tax benefit and use it on their own and use it in the new marketplace that Republicans advocate…

Update

Blunt’s office backpedals:

Blunt spokesman Rich Chrismer said Blunt wasn’t saying that Washington should have never created those programs. He called that “a stretch, even for the Democrats.”

“Roy Blunt did not say those programs were a mistake,” Chrismer said. “He was discussing the current health care debate and discussing his belief that government would be better off organizing health care, as we did with the Medicare prescription drug program, rather than operating health care systems like the Obama-Carnahan health care plan.”

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