Published On: Sun, May 25th, 2014

Kirsten Powers’ confusion over competition

During a roundtable conversation on today’s Fox News Sunday, the topic of the Veteran’s Administration debacle was the topic of choice. Syndicated columnist, George Will said of VA health care, “The fact is big government is too big for meaningful oversight and effective management from the Oval Office to the White House. It just is. He will not draw conclusions from that.

Image/Video Screen Shot

Image/Video Screen Shot

“But why are we surprised the government that runs the post office badly and runs Amtrak badly can’t run a health care system? Delivering a postcard from A to B or a passenger from point A to point B is a lot simpler than delivering health care. So, we shouldn’t be surprised by this.”

Host, Chris Wallace then asks USA Today’s Kirsten Powers the following–“Kirsten, the argument is when the government gets involved with health care, that there is no incentive because the doctors are all in salaries, there’s no incentive to see more patients. Therefore, you get the backlog, the waiting times, then the gaming of the system. Do you buy that argument, it’s the V.A. now and it will be ObamaCare later?”

Powers responded, “No, well, I don’t — ObamaCare and the V.A. are not the same thing. Of course, the V.A. is really government-run health care where you have the government controlling everything. That’s not what ObamaCare is. ObamaCare is more like insurance. You know, you don’t have the doctors working for ObamaCare. So, I don’t think it’s the same thing.

“I also think the private sector has a lot of problems. You know, Amtrak — you have a problem with Amtrak — well, I have a lot of problems with U.S. Air and American and United. So, you know, this idea that somehow putting things off into the private sector is going to make everything work, also doesn’t work if you consider your experiences, at least experiences I’ve had with insurance companies, health insurance companies.

“So, you know, this is not a surprising argument coming from Republicans. It’s always their argument. Take anything that’s happening in the world and this is the argument that they follow it through. It’s always proof that big government is a problem. So, it’s not surprising that that’s the answer here.”

Yes, Powers was correct about one thing–Obamacare and the VA are not the same thing–yet.

However, Powers argument comparing Amtrak and United Airlines or purchasing health insurance from private health insurance companies misses one huge point. The private sector businesses, e.g. United or Aetna, unlike Amtrak or the VA health system (and likely the future of US health care) gives you choices. If you are not happy with the service they provide, you go to a competitor airlines or insurance company. Competition naturally improves service.

In addition, these private sector businesses are responsible for maintaining a profit to remain afloat, while Amtrak for example, is a anchor around the necks of US taxpayers.

Ms. Powers shows a lack of understanding in her argument.


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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. Jim Loomis says:

    What nonsense! For starters, apparently neither Ms. Powers nor Mr. Herriman know that Amtrak is NOT run by the government. It’s a private corporation with a board of directors that are appointed to staggered terms by the president. Despite efforts by conservatives in Congress to strangle Amtrak by c continually shaving it’s already minuscule subsidy, guess what? The public loves Amtrak and, in fact, keeps demanding more and better passenger rail service. But let’s not — no matter what — let the public’s need for more and better passenger trains stand in the way of conservative ideology!

    • Robert Herriman says:

      The National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) is a government-owned corporation established in 1971 to provide intercity passenger train service throughout the United States. The name Amtrak comes from a combination of “American” and “track.” The members of Amtrak’s board are appointed by the President and are subject to confirmation by the Senate. Amtrak operates passenger service on 21,000 miles of track that connect 500 destinations in 46 states and select Canadian cities. Although the federal government owns all of Amtrak’s stock, it is widely considered to be valueless.

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