About That Medicare For All Thing

Video about 3 minutes:

I didn’t watch the whole debate Tuesday. As a matter of fact, I watched very little. I find it really difficult to watch my team get out on the floor and instead of beating on the other team, we start beating each other up. Just to add insult to injury while we beat each other up, we give the other team weapons to use on us later on. I have found over the years that the screaming I do is not being heard by those in the “debate.”

It was particularly hard to watch the portion concerning health care. Let me say right here at the start that I am not a total policy wonk on health care. What I do know is that health care is the one issue on which there are more lies, more misdirection, more obfuscation than pretty much any other issue.

There is a reason for that – by no surprise that is money. Money that flows into a few hands. These few hands belong to people willing to pay huge money to keep the system as it is. Some of that money flows down to politicians who do not care about you or me or our health. They do care about their bank accounts and getting re-elected. If that involves lying about health care, so be it.

So Tuesday night Elizabeth Warren was the target. The whole fooforah began with one of the moderators trying to get Warren to say that taxes will go up if America goes to Medicare for All or some form of single payer. This is a right wing talking point that those who want to keep our current system want to get a video of Warren in particular saying “taxes will go up.” Warren has refused the bait, preferring to reframe the question.

Now the moderator’s job is not to get information. His or her job is to get eyeballs on the TV screen. The generally accepted method to do that is to create controversy and conflict. So after pushing Warren like a hound, he let the other candidates take over the pursuit.

Other candidates took the bait and took over the pursuit, thus giving Republicans plenty of videos and talking points for the presidential campaign. One of our candidates called the Warren’s attempt to reframe the question as a “pipe dream.” Another said Warren’s answer was a multi-trillion dollar infilled hole. In order to get to that conclusion a very huge reality had to be ignored. Both answers will be sliced and diced into videos and voice snippets that will haunt whatever candidate is our nominee.

The candidates were talking about funding over a ten year period. When they are throwing around figures like $34 trillion (T) dollars this is not one year. The ten year number has been bandied about by right wing think tanks in an effort to scare low information voters. It does its job.

When one candidate referred to a “$30T hole,” he didn’t mention that was over ten years (or maybe I missed it). $30T is a scary number, much scarier than $3T a year. Besides the scariness of the number was the fact that this number is only derived if we totally take the current premiums, deductibles and co-pay out of the calculations. That is a sad mislead, since it is an unfair comparison if you do not compare today to the future.

America currently pay some 17.5% of the GDP (gross domestic product) in health care. My understanding is that that does not include dental, vision or longterm care. Our current GDP is @21T per year. Therefore we are already paying $3.675T toward health care only. Multiply that by 10 since that money will in some form still be going into the health care funding. Comparing apples to apples suddenly that $34T “hole” becomes a nearly $3T surplus. 

We are already paying for the Cadillac and getting the model T. Why?

The percentage of GDP that will go to health care is predicted to go to 20% and more in the next few years. So the cost of our current system for 10 years could easily be over $40T in a few years.

What exactly the eventual “Medicare for All” bill will look like is still being formed. Most speculation has vision, dental and long term care as part of the package. Many of the plans I have seen discussed do not have co-pays or deductibles and the premiums will be collected in the form of a tax. That tax will for most be substantially lower than current premiums and will be deducted from a persons paycheck.

Thinking about today’s highly fragmented system where some 10% of Americans are still not covered and most Americans face potentially ruinous out of pocket costs at a cost that is less than today’s costs. 

Canada is the next highest percentage going to health care at 11.1%. That will probably will not change due to cost controls and efficiencies built into their system. So Canadians get more services for half the price. 

One other thing I must say is that I hope we learned from the ACA is that allowing insurance companies to write our national health care policy or any portion of it is getting up the mechanism for that policy’s destruction. Write the policy with all of our citizens in mind, then if there is a role for insurance companies make sure it is very limited and very closely defined. Insurance companies are literally the nose of the camel under the the tent. Once the nose is in the rest of the camel will be in soon.

Updating the current ACA seems like merely kicking the can down the road at a time when the bold changes we have needed for a century can finally be achieved. Plus as long as insurance companies are involved, someone making health decisions for you has his company’s profits in the mix.

Physicians for a National Health Policy (PNHP) is a group that has been leading this fight for a long time. Their background and proposals are a great place to help understand the issues around health care.    

This rant is mostly off the top of my head. My main point here is that the Democratic team meeds to talk from the same set of facts and for gawd’s sake that we do not give our opponents the tools to beat us with. Stop it right now!

Canadian doctor makes a fool of Rep. Senator Richard Burr from 5 years ago. About 6 minutes:

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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