Via Matt Yglesias, I stumbled upon the following from Congressman Roy Blunt (R-MO):
You certainly could make that argument, but then again you'd probably not get reelected.
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.
Matt then goes on to inform us that Medicare was passed in part because there is no free market solution to old and sick people, other than the one used prior to 1965 which was simply to remove them from the insurance pool:
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.To further illustrate that point, I've included a handy chart which breaks out our nation's poverty rate since the late 1950's:
So the next time some politician tells you that the "new deal" was a terrible idea, or as Mr. Blunt believes that the government should have never gotten involved in health care in the first place, you might want to ask if he's ready to return over 30% of the over 65 crowd back into poverty.
(whether or not you should invite Grandma and Grandpa to live in your house once they retire is a conversation for another day)