My friend Ezra Klein puts some more meat on the goofiness for which I recently dinged my friend Jonathan Cohn. The Left’s approach to health-care cost containment is to give more health coverage to more people with more ailments, all the while making everyone pay less. (What do you mean it doesn’t make sense? Don’t you believe??)
Cohn expressed that strategy like so:
The better way to control costs is with a variety of approaches that starts with a guarantee of coverage to everybody.
This is, at least in the abstract, the political logic of focusing on access first: Expanding access creates pressures that force the system to figure out how to control costs.
So if you have an alcoholic friend, Klein suggests you keep buying him drinks until he hits rock bottom. Or maybe he means that we should keep buying “olive oil” until Don Corleone is so flush with cash that … no, wait. That won’t work. Maybe I just don’t understand abstract thinking.
Of course, the Church of Universal Coverage can always point to the health gains we’d see from covering the uninsured. And I can’t dispute those gains. It’s just a pity that they’re so obsessed with their holy grail that they don’t see other ways of improving health, maybe at a lower cost, and that wouldn’t feed the very beast that’s going to fight their future cost-containment efforts.