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Single Payer Pivot
The Next Healthcare Battle is Here

Coverage under Obamacare has only been live for one day, and already the hills are alive with the sound of the single payer pivot. Michael Moore (Fahrenheit 9/11Sicko) has an op-ed in the NYT arguing that we need to build on the ACA to set up a single-payer like system. With its mix of praise and blame for the Affordable Care Act, Moore’s piece is a textbook example of the pivot genre:

For many people, the “affordable” part of the Affordable Care Act risks being a cruel joke. The cheapest plan available to a 60-year-old couple making $65,000 a year in Hartford, Conn., will cost $11,800 in annual premiums. And their deductible will be $12,600 […]

And yet — I would be remiss if I didn’t say this — Obamacare is a godsend. My friend Donna Smith, who was forced to move into her daughter’s spare room at age 52 because health problems bankrupted her and her husband, Larry, now has cancer again. As she undergoes treatment, at least she won’t be in terror of losing coverage and becoming uninsurable. Under Obamacare, her premium has been cut in half, to $456 per month.

Let’s not take a victory lap yet, but build on what there is to get what we deserve: universal quality health care.

Moore’s model for what universal quality health care looks like is Vermont’s single-payer experiment, which will go live in 2017. And he’s not alone. At The New Republic, ACA champion Jonathan Cohn solicited the predictions of eight different health care wonks for Obamacare’s 2014 prospects. One of the participants, Don McCanne of the “Physicians for a National Health Plan”, argues that Obamacare was a success, but it will restrict networks, raise costs, and leave many uninsured—a curious kind of success. He predicts, therefore, that the public will increasingly demand a single-payer system that can address these lingering problems.

This is where the debate is going. Obamacare supporters almost universally accepted the ACA as a compromise when it was passed, and they aren’t going to be keep playing defense on the law. They are going to go on offense, pushing for the kind of system they have wanted from the beginning. Even as opponents of the Affordable Care Act continue to fight the law, proponents of the ACA are already suiting up for the next battle.

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  • bigfire

    Now with even less care or accountability than DMV. God Save America. And this is coming from a confirmed atheist.

  • DiogenesDespairs

    Great. The statist, Big Government crowd that brought us the Obamacare website rollout now want to take effective financial control of our entire health care system.

    Expect many deaths until we find a way to stop the madness.

  • Andrew Allison

    As I have written before, the issue is whether we as a society, feel an obligation to provide a heathcare safety net for every legal resident of the country.

    • S.C. Schwarz

      I feel an obligation to provide healthcare for the poor and those otherwise unable to provide for themselves or their families. I feel no obligation whatsoever to provide free contraceptives to the Sandra Flukes of the world, who can easily afford to pay their own way.

      I retired last year and I am covered by Medicare now. It is indeed a great system, and it is bankrupting us. On average, each Medicare recipient of my generation will collect about three times as much from Medicare as they paid in. Where does this money come from? From my children, and yours if you have any, who, on average need the money more than I do.

      And this is the system you want to expand?

      • Andrew Allison

        Fire, get ready, aim! At no point did I suggest that Medicare should be expanded. Please re-read my comment and, if you disagree with anything I wrote, please provide a counter-argument.

        • Tom

          Um, the words “Medicare for all” come to mind.

          • Andrew Allison

            Your overlooking the word “If” was either careless or mendatious.

          • Tom

            However, let’s assume we take that if. Expand Medicare?

        • S.C. Schwarz

          As Tom notes, your original post said “Medicare for all.” How can you write that and then say you did not suggest expanding Medicare? And if you want to expand Medicare, how do you propose to pay for it?

          • Andrew Allison

            Like Tom, your reflexes impair your reading ability. IF the nation were to decide on Medicare for all, it would be paid for in the same way it is today, namely a tax paid by all. Removing the middle-man would significantlty lower costs. Example: I pay $125/mo for Medicare and Medigap; the “ACA” cost for a plan with a $4000 deductible and 40% co-pay is over four time that amount.

          • S.C. Schwarz

            Review the thread above: Tom and I have repeatedly made constructive arguments and raised substantive issues. Every one of your posts is an insult.

            You sir are a troll.

            And a stupid troll too since you choose to “debate” an issue, health care economics, that you apparently know nothing about. For example, in the post above you state that you pay $125 per month for Medicare. But of course that’s not the real cost of Medicare, the real cost is paid by people still working in their FICA taxes. And, even though Medicare collects hundreds of billions of dollars annually, it is still going broke. The latest Medicare Trustees report estimates that the Medicare trust fund will be exhausted in 2026. And that’s just for the people covered now. If we expand it to everyone the cost would be astronomical.

  • Fat_Man

    Go ahead guys, make my day. Make sure that all of the Democrats running for Congress are on board with single payer this fall.

  • GodisanAmerican

    Until GOP puts forward an alternative policy which covers all citizens, their temper tantrums just sound like ‘why we are spending so much on healthcare for the poor when we could be cutting taxes for the rich’
    Obamacare is far from satisfactory but when one party has gone nuts there isn’t much hope for a better bill.
    I hope someone like Mr. Mead would write about GOP’s dive towards lunacy.

  • Boritz

    The Democrats really understand that the best defense is an offense. If the Republicans were playing this game the right way they around 2004 they would have implemented an overreaching military project. Say, for example, a fleet of submarine aircraft carriers. Sell it with a pricetag of 0.8 trillion. When the project failed miserably argue that it was underfunded and appropriate an additional 2.6 trillion. By now the pricetag would be over 6 trillion. Not only would this feed right-wing rent-seekers but it would suck all of the oxygen out of the system. There wouldn’t be a dollar for food stamps let alone to makeover healthcare.

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