Sen. Kent Conrad's Argument Against a Public Option: France Doesn't Have One

The truth is, France has had a public insurance system that covers all of its citizens since 1945.

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) has been one of the fiercest opponents of including a new public plan in health care reform legislation, even going so far as to say that it’s a “wasted effort” to even try to get one. At a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee this past Tuesday, Conrad made a curious argument against the public option — he cited the French health care system as an example of why we don’t need one:

Let me just conclude for my progressive friends who believe that the only answer to getting costs under control and having universal coverage is by a government-run program. I urge my colleagues to read the book by T.R. Reid, “The Healing of America.”

I had the chance to read it this weekend. He looks at the health-care systems around the world. And what he found is in many countries they have universal coverage. They contain costs effectively. They have high-quality outcomes, in fact higher than ours. They’re not government-run systems in Germany, in Japan, in Switzerland, in France, in Belgium — all of them contain costs, have universal coverage, have very high quality care and yet are not government-run systems.


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