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Giving Compass' Take:
· In this Q&A session, Benedic Ippolito, research fellow in economic policy studies at AEI, talks about Sen. Bernie Sanders’ "Medicare for All" proposal and what it really means.
· There are different policies being proposed under "Medicare for All" with the underlying idea that healthcare is a human right.
Before we get into Medicare for All, I think some would wonder why this is even a topic or a hot policy proposal from various candidates. We just had a big health care reform plan, the Affordable Care Act. What is seen as lacking in the Affordable Care Act that Democrats are coming back to the table and saying ‘we need another big change to the American health care system?’
Well, I think we had so much fun for the last ten years discussing nothing but the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that people are just sort of addicted to discussing health care, and changing health care. I mean the ACA did a bunch of things, expanded coverage — that was its main target — but it didn’t really fundamentally address a lot of the key issues in health care, namely the cost of care. And that’s one of the things that I think is really spurning this issue on. We still have about 30 million people who are uninsured. We still spend about $3.5 trillion a year on health care — that’s 18 percent of GDP. That’s money that we could use to do all sorts of other things, but we’re funneling it all to health care. And so there’s this big appetite to look at that pot of money and say, ‘jeez if we could just cut that down by 20 percent, we’d have a ton of money to play with.’ And so I think fundamentally, it’s this issue that at a certain point we cannot let health care eat the entire budget. So we’ve got to do something.
But what is driving the push for Medicare for All, is it people worried about cost or is it insuring more people? Is it making health care more affordable for more people by funneling it all through the government? What is actually driving it?
So it depends what policy in particular you’re talking about. I think we’ll get into this, but I mean when you actually go through the list of proposals that are out there, they vary considerably depending on whether they’re actually talking about universal coverage, or whether it’s single-payer, or whether it’s Medicaid, or Medicare buy-in, and so on. So the goals vary a little bit. I think one of the unifying themes you at least hear rhetorically coming out of the Democrats at this point is that health care is a human right, and therefore we need to do everything we can to expand the system so that everybody is included. And then at the same time, there’s this idea that, ‘boy if we just do it this way where we funnel things through the government, costs are going to tumble as we do that.’
Read the full article about Medicare for All by James Pethokoukis at AEI.