May 31, 2019 | Updates

THE WEEKLY SCAN: Key Stories In The Debate On America’s Health Care Future

Good Friday afternoon, and welcome to the Weekly Scan.  Here are some of the key stories you may have missed in the debate on America’s health care future:

As some 2020 presidential hopefuls continue to struggle with their embrace of Medicare for all, CNN reports that “it may not even be what their party wants,” noting that most Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents would prefer our elected officials focus instead on improving and building upon what works in American health care:

So while Democrats are arguing about Medicare for all, it may not even be what their party wants.  Slightly more than half (52%) of Democrats and Democratic leaning independents said they think Democrats in Congress should focus their efforts on improving and protecting the 2010 Affordable Care Act over passing a national Medicare for all plan (39%), according to Kaiser’s April poll … But there’s still an appetite for improving the current system in the progressive wing of the party.  Liberal Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents tipped slightly towards improving the Affordable Care Act (49%) than passing Medicare for all (43%) while moderate Democrats and leaners were more solidly behind the ACA (62%) than Medicare [for all] (32%).  But even liberal Democrats want Congress to focus on protecting the ACA over passing Medicare [for all], but just in lower numbers than their moderate counterparts.

This comes as experts warn yet again about the negative consequences America’s hospitals and patients could expect under a one-size-fits-all government run system created under Medicare for all, as well as from proposed government insurance systems like “Medicare buy-in” or a “public-option.”  POLITICO reports that such a system “would all but end private insurance and regulate hospitals in a vastly different way, dramatically changing operators’ business model and costing community hospitals as much as $151 billion a year, according to one estimate published in JAMA,” all while “slashing hospitals’ pay rates and putting up to 1.5 million jobs at stake … It’s a concern that’s left Medicare for All advocates walking a fine line, arguing for a dramatic reshaping of the health system while trying to avoid a brawl with their hometown health systems.”

Meanwhile, as the push for Medicare for all “falters” in the U.S. Congress, some New York lawmakers are pushing for a one-size-fits-all health care system run by the state’s government.  The Albany Times Union reports that many New Yorkers “are worried about the unpredictability and unknowns associated with upending an entire health care system, not to mention the idea of entrusting such an important system with the state government.” 

Lawmakers on both sides of the issue appeared particularly concerned about any possible effect on retirees, who fear they may lose hard-fought benefits obtained through years and sometimes decades of union negotiations … “These are things we fought for and we’re not about to give them up,” said Peter Meringolo, chair of the NYS Public Employee Conference, an organization with 82 member unions.”

And as skeptical lawmakers “questioned the cost of the plan,” The Wall Street Journal also noted that “[t]he bill doesn’t have a specific funding plan.  But it calls for higher capital-gains taxes and a new payroll tax.”  Already, the costly plan’s inevitable middle-class tax hikes has earned it criticism from both sides of the aisle.  In an interview with The AtlanticGovernor Cuomo was blunt about the political and fiscal costs of implementing a one-size-fits-all government-run health care system in the Empire State, warning that “you’d double everybody’s taxes” to pay for it.



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