Rubio’s Crock-Flop

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Earlier in the Florida Senate campaign, Marco Rubio pledged his support for full repeal of Health Care Reform. Now he’s hedging on that, saying he thinks we should keep the ban on denial for preexisting conditions and allow kids to stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26.

In political terms, that’s enough to count as your classic flip-flop. You can see the video here.

But there’s a deeper substantive point, which is actually worse, but will likely get less play.Rubio’s position is something like saying on the fancy dinner out, I’m in favor of the food, but not the check. I mean, who isn’t? As any policy person or health care economist will tell you, you can’t ban denial for pre-existing conditions without getting coverage up towards near-universal if not quite universal terms. You can bash the health care insurers all you want. And they certainly deserve bashing. But the truth is that if you do one and not the other you get a classic adverse selection problem. Healthy people won’t get coverage until they become chronically ill. Then they’ll sign up. And there’s no way their premiums can cover their care. Yes, that’s a crude, outline explanation of the problem. But broadly speaking, that’s the reality. The economics don’t work, no matter how much the insurers take out in profits or waste on inefficiencies.

So basically Rubio’s new open-mindedness on Health Care isn’t just a flip-flop, which is a political matter, it’s a crock, which really matters a lot. Because there’s no free lunch.

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Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.
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