It’s often frustrating to argue with conservatives who won’t admit that the logic of their position is that popular, uncontroversial, and long-established government programs never should have been created. So House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) did us all a favor yesterday by going on the radio and opining that we never should have started Medicare and Medicaid:
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.
For the record, Medicare and Medicaid were passed at the exact same, both as part of the Social Security Act of 1965. And it’s crucial to understand that Medicare, in particular, didn’t just come about because of some random bleeding heart impulse. The reason there was political muscle to get Medicare passed even though it wasn’t possible to move to a true universal system is that private health insurers wanted nothing to do with the senior citizen client base. Insurance takes advantage of risk-pooling and risk-aversion to offer people security at a price that’s both profitable and attractive. When the whole pool is bad risks, as senior citizens are, there’s no real business opportunity.