Sullivan makes the following irrefutable point about the public option:
It seems to me that a public option which allows the government to use its huge buying power to achieve cost cuts that no private company could manage would be a Trojan horse.
Disappointingly, he adds the following:
But a government option forbidden to use such leverage, but allowed to have an edge from administrative and overhead savings, is a useful compromise.
This is hopelessly naïve. Who is going to “forbid” the public option from using its implicit competitive advantage? A Congress (Democrat or Republican) under increasing pressure to save money? Come on!
Its gigantic advantages would manifest themselves in the market simply because it exists. This would be true even if its advocates intended to create a level playing field, which they do not.
The impetus for the Sullivan post to which I link above was a CBS/NYT poll that allegedly shows 65% of Americans favoring the public option. William Jacobson provides the actual question that produced this implausible result:
Would you favor or oppose the government offering everyone a government administered health insurance plan — something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older get — that would compete with private insurance plans?
What a joke. As Jacobson points out, the question is obviously phrased to produce a positive response:
Here’s a question I bet would elicit an even more positive response: ‘Would you be in favor of a free lunch?’
How can anyone be so clueless as to take such a poll seriously. I mean, really.