I’m guessing I was like millions of others and didn’t get past the part of the Democrats’ debate where they debated health care. Round and round they went. Back and forth. Should those who “like” their insurance plan be forced to give it up? Sanders (I think it was) scored a zinger when he pointed out that he didn’t know anybody who likes their health insurer. But he and Warren really had no answer to the attack whose essence is “why should somebody be forced to give up their private insurance if they prefer it?”
The defenders of a public option all implicitly explained that if they lost their private insurance, or if their private insurance would no longer pay for their health needs, then they could go to the public option. That, right there, is the answer. What would tend to happen is that the private insurers would cherry pick. They would accept and pay for (to a limited extent) the healthiest customers. The rest would be shuffled off to Medicare. That public insurance would then have to either charge huge premiums or be a massive money loser.
Sanders and Warren have had one opportunity after another to explain this simply dynamic, yet they have never even hinted at it. I’ve spent months trying to figure out why not, but the answer isn’t so complicated: What it shows is the incompatibility of a “mixed economy”. What is true in the health care field is true in any other field. Yet at best that is exactly what Sanders, in particular, advocates. So, given this attack against “taking away freedom of choice”, and given the fact that Sanders and Warren cannot answer that attack, I think that the idea of a public “option” will overtake Medicare for All in popularity, at least among independent voters.
As for the rest of the evening: I wanted to gag listening to the meaningless drivel coming out of the mouths of the candidates in their opening statements.
“I am someone that tells the truth. I don’t make promises that I can’t keep,” said Klobuchar. “We have to see clearly, we have to speak honestly, and we have to act decisively,” said O’Rourke. “We have to see ourselves as the owners and shareholders of this democracy rather than inputs into a giant machine,” said the libertarian Yang. Sanders promised the moon as far as everything from health care to global climate disaster, but not a word about how he was going to get his party to follow him. Biden talked about “Look, this is the United States of America. There has never been a single solitary time when we’ve set our mind to something we’ve been unable to do it.”
I must admit, though, that I was happy that that despicable Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) bigot Tulsi Gabbard didn’t make it to the stage. At last that was something positive.
I preferred to watch my recorded episode of Trevor Noah and the Daily Show, especially when he interviewed Greta Thonberg, the 15 year-old Swedish young woman. Sure, she’s fast becoming an icon and will very likely be seduced by the process. But still, for that moment, she was really a breath of fresh air. She talked about appearing before the UN and being told she provided them with hope. “I don’t want them to hope. I want them to panic. I want them to be very scared,” she said.
It’s sounding more and more like her generation is becoming politicized and radicalized like mine was back in the 1960s.
For a more extended critique of leaving the providers (hospitals) in private hands while insurance is provided by the government, see this “US health care: single payer or socialized medicine.”