Everybody!

Everything everyone is saying about Medicare For All is true. As Donald Trump says, “Their plan would eliminate Medicare as we know it.”

In a sentence you never thought you’d read, Amy Klobachar agrees. She “read the bill and on page 8 of the bill, it says that we will no longer have private insurance as we know it and that means 149 million Americans will no longer be able to have their current insurance.”

True that. Under Medicare For All (MFA), there is no such thing as health insurance. There are also no deductibles, no co-pays, no out-of-pocket expenses. Theoretically, everyone pays the healthcare tax and everyone gets “free” medical benefits.

Then again, Joe Biden is right when he insists, “There WILL be a deductible. In your paycheck! Someone making 60 grand … they’re going to end up paying 4% more on their income tax!”

MFA opponent, physician and Congressman, John Joyce, elaborates: “A Medicare For All system has been estimated to cost $32 trillion over 10 years. $32 TRILLION out of the pockets of hard-working taxpayers.” 

MFA is admittedly a $3.3 +/- trillion a year investment. But guess what? We’re already paying $3.5 +/- trillion a year.  And as Elizabeth Warren rightly surmises, it’s better than “paying premiums into insurance companies and then having insurance companies build their profits by saying no to coverage.”

Bernie Sanders, who wrote the damn bill, is quick to remind us that it “allows you to go to any doctor you want which many private insurance companies do not.” That’s true too. There are no more healthcare networks. Virtually all doctors and hospitals and other providers will live or die by government rates.

So opponents like Charles Blahous of George Mason University are right to predict physician pay cuts. But so is Andrew Yang who correctly counters with the fact that, “Doctors … spend a lot of time on paperwork and avoiding being sued and negotiating the insurance bureaucracy” which will be eliminated if we “change the incentive so, instead of revenue and activity, people are focused on our health.’

Of course, the American people have heard promises before. And we’re right to be skeptical. Many people felt Obamacare bit them, although now, about 2/3rds of us want to keep key provisions like guaranteed, affordable coverage for those with preexisting conditions. But having been burned by one healthcare rollout, are we willing to gamble on another? Even if MFA is the most efficient healthcare system, it might be a bridge too far.

We’re not the only ones confused. The American Medical Association has had its own internal debate. The bipartisan Congressional Budget Office said it would be “disruptive.” It would be. By design.

That’s why, in the end, Cory Booker’s expediency is probably right on. “It can’t be a political slogan. There has to be a pathway there. And the first step in that pathway is actually creating a vibrant public option.”

Indeed, most of the candidate’s plans contain a public option, meaning health insurance does exist, but you get to choose whether you want coverage through a for-profit private plan or through a non-profit government plan.

“If we’re right, as progressives, that the public alternative is better, then the American people will figure that out for themselves.”  That’s what Mayor Pete Buttigieg says. And he’s right. We voters will speak our truth when we vote in the primaries and Presidential election of 2020.

 

(NOTE: All the quotes not linked are from the ABC Democratic Debate aired on 9.12.19)