It is good that the President has ceased attempting to sell his public option health care initiative on the strength of a comparison to the United States Postal Service. Americans will not soon be convinced of the economic viability of an expansion of public healthcare when it is compared to an entity on track to lose $7 billion this year. This past summer the Government accountability office put the postal service on its high risk list because of its “increasingly shaky financial footing,” and in the spring Post Master General John Potter asked Congress for permission to cut delivery service back to 5 days per week and close 700 offices nation wide. This is not the sort of talk that inspires confidence that a government takeover of the healthcare industry is the answer to our fiscal tribulations.
It is bad that the President, demonstrating what can only be described as intellectual density, has chosen instead to compare his public option to our system of state colleges and universities. This is particularly ironic given the fact that the cost of higher education has been skyrocketing for years and has in fact outpaced that of healthcare. Even more ironic is that according to the College Board's annual tuition survey, the rate of growth of the price of public 4 year colleges has been faster than at private 4 year colleges; a trend that has persisted for 3 decades.
The Los Angeles Times recently reported that the California State Board of Regents has asked for an increase in fees for undergraduate residents that would be 44% higher than they were in 2008. In addition they are considering “ideas to reduce freshman enrollment by an additional 2,300 students…and to charge extra fees for some upper division undergraduate majors, such as business and engineering.”
A quick Google search reveals similar stories being reported across the country.
Our public institutions of higher learning struggle with rapidly rising costs and they do so for many of the same reasons as their private competitors, which as it happens are similar to those responsible for increases in the cost of healthcare: inflated demand and over reliance on third party payers and subsidies.