September 13, 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:

Last night’s Democratic presidential debate “once again highlighted the unaffordable costs and substantial risks American families would face under new government-controlled health insurance systems like Medicare for all, Medicare buy-in and the public option” said Lauren Crawford Shaver, executive director of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future in a statement.

And as Democratic candidates sparred over their calls for new government-controlled health insurance systems on last night’s debate stage, new polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that “[m]ost Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (55%) say they prefer a candidate who would build on the Affordable Care Act to achieve those goals.  Fewer (40%) prefer a candidate who would replace the ACA with a Medicare-for-all plan.”

As in past polling, Kaiser also found that “large shares” express uncertainty about what proposed new government-controlled health insurance systems would mean for them.  The American public’s confusion over one-size-fits-all proposals such as Medicare for all is not surprising.  “Such a sweeping overhaul of the country’s patchwork health insurance system hasn’t been attempted before,” The Washington Post reports, “and even though the 2020 contenders frequently mention it, they tend to shy away from details on exactly how the whole thing would work.”

  • This is reflected in national polls, which show that most Americans oppose Medicare for all once they know the consequences of a one-size-fits-all system.  A national poll conducted earlier this year by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that support for Medicare for all “drops as low as -44 percentage points” when people find out it would “lead to delays in some people getting some medical tests and treatments,” and “is also negative if people hear it would threaten the current Medicare program (-28 percentage points), require most Americans to pay more in taxes (-23 percentage points), or eliminate private health insurance companies (-21 percentage points).”

Further proving this point, earlier this week My Care, My Choice – an advocacy group dedicated to ensuring patients have better access to the health care they need when they need it and fighting against new government-run health insurance systems, like Medicare for all, Medicare buy-in and the public option – announced that it has reached one million supporters.

This evidence helps explain why a growing number of Democrats are backing away from these risky, unaffordable schemes.  Appearing on ABC this past week, President Obama’s former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel called Medicare for all “an untenable position,” as it would “eliminate 150 million people’s health care.”  And following last night’s debate, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough criticized Democrats for supporting a one-size-fits-all government health insurance system as a “waste of time for Democrats.”

Meanwhile, some Democratic candidates continue to promote the public option as a more “moderate” alternative to Medicare for all.  Which is why the Partnership reminded candidates and voters that the public option is just another government-controlled health insurance system that 2020 presidential hopefuls and others acknowledge would ultimately lead down the same path to a one-size-fits-all system – with all the same unaffordable costs, tax increases, and threats to patients’ choices, access and quality of care. 
Of particular concern is the risks the public option would pose to rural communities after a recent study found that the public option could put more than 1,000 rural U.S. hospitals – serving more than 60 million Americans in 46 states “at high risk of closure.”  In new op-ed for the Des Moines Register, Julius Schaaf, an Iowa farmer and former U.S. Grains Council Chairman, warns against the unaffordable costs and risks Iowa families would face under these one-size-fits-all systems.  He writes:

… Now, more than ever, farmers and ranchers have two major concerns related to health care: cost and access …  According to a new Navigant study, offering a government insurance program reimbursing at Medicare rates as a public option on the health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could place as many as 55% of rural hospitals, or 1,037 hospitals across 46 states, at high risk of closure across the country.  Here in Iowa, a public option could put 58% of our rural hospitals at high risk of closure, according to the study.

And to continue educating Americans about the risks associated with the public option and other government-controlled health insurance systems, the Partnership “again [ran] ads on TV stations and online platforms airing the debate, part of a national seven-figure campaign,” POLITICO reports.  The Partnership also ran “advertisements on Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, as well as a takeover of YouTube’s homepage following the debate,” The Washington Post adds.  Ahead of the debate, the Partnership also issued a memo outlining key facts for those observing and reporting on tonight’s discussion to keep in mind.



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