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Friday, July 17, 2009

The rope the HMOs are selling

I was disappointed this week to learn that Vladimir Lenin never, as far as anyone can tell, actually said "the capitalists will sell us the rope by which we will hang them." Nevertheless, the idea is an important one, and in my column today, I apply it to the current lobbying push for health-care reform.

In 2025, when a newly sworn-in President Gavin Newsom looks at the health insurance industry — subsidized up to its neck, benefiting from federal mandates that require us to buy their product and protected from competition by regulations — and decides that the modest “public option” should simply be expanded to a single-payer, government-run system, should free-market types rise to defend these subsidy-suckling regulatory robbers?

Congress will kill the private insurers some day, but between now and then, the companies will profit handsomely and easily. Are the HMO lobbyists and CEOs buying short-term profits at the price of their long-term survival? Are they selling the rope with which government will hang them?

Read the whole thing here.

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