Back in late June, right after the first Democratic Primary Candidate Presidential Debate, I posted an analysis & table to break out exactly where each of the then-20 (!) candidates stood when it comes to the Next Big Thing in U.S. healthcare policy. I posted a couple of updates as the summer and early fall progressed.
At the time, my main point was that regardless of their official campaign rhetoric, the truth was that nearly all of the candidates were open to multiple paths towards expanding healthcare coverage...both in terms of the number of people covered, the scope of that coverage and the cost of coverage to the enrollees, with a greater portion of the total cost being borne by the federal government.
Harris’s rollout Monday was met with swift criticism from both the Biden camp, which called it “A Bernie Sanders-lite Medicare for All,” and the Sanders camp, which insists Harris “can’t call [her] plan Medicare for All.”
In saying this, the Sanders campaign is effectively trying to lay a copyright claim to Medicare-for-all, as if it, and only it, can define what it means. The reality is far less clear — and depending on your perspective, it could be Harris’s proposal that is more justified in claiming the Medicare-for-all branding.
I'm not going to overquote my own piece, but this has led to some backlash against me, so for the record:
(IMPORTANT: As my friend Shawn Pierce keeps pointing out, the phrase "Medicare for All" has two very different meanings...one is the brand "Medicare for All", which simply refers to any healthcare plan which ensures 100% universal, comprehensive healthcare coverage for everyone; the other is the specific bills introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders and/or Rep. Pramila Jayapal, which would indeed completely eliminate private major medical insurance for 100% of the population as well as completely eliminating all out-of-pocket costs in favor of 100% federal public funding).
For months now, California Senator and Presidential candidate Kamala Harris has repeatedly struggled with how to address her support of Bernie Sanders' 100% mandatory, $0 out-of-pocket-cost, 100% comprehensive "pure" single payer "Medicare for All" healthcare bill.
If I could only ask one question of the 20-odd candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for President at the next debate coming up right here in Detroit, Michigan, here's how I would word it. I've customized it for each of the five major candidates (apologies to the rest of them):
Preface to each of the candidates:
"Earlier this month, oral arguments were heard by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals over a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act filed by 20 Republican Attorneys General and fully supported by the Trump Administration.
"If the plaintiffs are successful and the ACA is struck down entirely, up to 20 million Americans would find themselves without healthcare coverage and tens of millions more with pre-existing conditions would lose critical protections, while states would lose hundreds of millions, or even billions of federal funding.
"Every Democratic candidate has come out in favor of significantly expanding publicly-funded healthcare coverage to some degree or another. Some want to build upon the Affordable Care Act. Some want to add a public option. Some want guaranteed universal coverage, and some are demanding universal single payer healthcare for everyone in the United States.
I'm happy to report that our panel did indeed make the final cut, and will be happening this Friday, July 12th:
FIX THE DAMN HEALTHCARE: SORTING OUT ACA 2.0, MFA, MED4AM AND MORE!
Friday, Jul. 12 4:30 PM, Room: 118C
The healthcare landscape is confusing and exciting in 2019. Reining in Big Pharma, strengthening the ACA, adding public options, “Medicare for America” or “Medicare for All”… the alphabet soup of plans can be confusing. Can improvements be implemented before 2021 at the federal level or is it all up to the states? And what about the latest lawsuit looming over everything? We’ll go beyond the slogans and into the details: How are the proposals similar and different, and what do patients, caregivers and other invested parties think.
UPDATE 8/20/19: I originally posted this in late June. Since then, there have been several important developments: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have formally rolled out their own official healthcare overhaul plans, with Harris splitting off from Bernie Sanders' fully-mandatory "Medicare for All" bill to her own variant, which keeps the name but has similarities to "Medicare for America". Also, Eric Swalwell and John Hickenlooper have dropped out (ok, not every development was major).
I've updated the post to reflect these changes, while also updating the table graphic, which I've also simplified by removing Swalwell, Hickenlooper and most of the other bottom-rung candidates. I'm keeping everyone who's qualified for the September/October debates as of this writing, plus Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee and Tom Steyer, each of whom is partly qualified.
...voters were only dimly aware of candidates’ and elected officials’ health proposals.
...These voters are not tuned into the details — or even the broad outlines — of the health policy debates going on in Washington and the campaign, even though they say health care will be at least somewhat important to their vote.
Many had never heard the term “Medicare for all”...
(update: the video of the town hall has been removed from YouTube for whatever reason, but I have the transcript below anyway)
Last night on the Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Democratic U.S. Senator and Presidential candidate Kamala Harris took her fourth (or fifth) shot at explaining exactly where she stands on Medicare for All and the elimination of private primary heatlh insurance.
As I've noted (mostly on Twitter...I just checked and it looks like I haven't written much about it on the site aside from a quick mention here), Harris has struggled to explain her position in several town hall appearances; she'll boldly stated that she supports "Medicare for All", but then stumbles when it comes to the "elimination of private insurance" issue.
WARNING: I can not emphasize enough just how many assumptions I'm making here. I could be ABSURDLY off at either end of the scale; the actual cost could turn out to be half as much as I project here...or twice as much. This is purely a crude, early attempt to game out the basic framework for determining the actual cost, and there's a lot of missing data, which means having to make some pretty big assumptions about the current situation, much less projecting things forward.
NOTE:Back in January, I wrote up an extensive explainer about the "Medicare for America" (Med4Am) universal healthcare coverage bill introduced in December by Democratic Representatives (and Progressive Caucus members, I might add) Rosa DeLauro and Jan Schakowsky.
Yesterday, DeLauro & Schakowsky have introduced a modified, improved version of Medicare for America, with some important changes. I'm therefore posting an updated version of my January explainer of the bill, with notes about what's changed since the December version.
Birmingham First United Methodist Church, 1589 W. Maple Rd., Birmingham, MI 48009
Turn on the TV, open a newspaper, browse social media: everyone is talking about new ideas for expanding American healthcare coverage. As consumers and voters, it can be hard to know which option is best for our families, our neighbors, and our nation.
This timely forum will help you make sense of Medicare for All; Medicare and Medicaid Buy-Ins; adding public plan features to private insurance; improving the Affordable Care Act (ACA); and other options discussed in the media.
*("major" is obviously a subjective term depending on who's using it.)
Until this weekend, "Medicare for All or Bust" seemed to be the most critical litmus test for any major 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate. No fewer than sixteen Democratic Senators co-sponsored Bernie Sanders' S.1804 "Medicare for All" single payer bill in September 2017, including five of the six U.S. Senators currently running for the 2020 nomination: Sanders himself, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren (the only Senator running who didn't cosponsor the bill was Amy Klobuchar.)
Recently, however, there have been a few interesting developments along the "Where do the Dem candidates stand on healthcare policy" front:
Early concept art has revealed a very different look for Toy Story's dynamic duo, Woody and Buzz Lightyear.
Pixar's first feature started life as a full-length take on their short Tin Story, which saw a mechanical drummer attempting to navigate his way through a baby's playroom. The drummer was soon ditched for a more glamorously conceived "space toy" named Lunar Larry, later renamed Buzz Lightyear in honour of famed astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin.
The original concept pitched its drummer against an antagonistic ventriloquist's dummy, who gradually evolved into a pull-string cowboy doll named Woody, inspired by Western actor Woody Strode.
Yes, Woody was originally the bad guy; though his character didn't prove popular with his voice actor Tom Hanks, who reportedly shouted "This guy is a jerk!" while recording lines for the story reel.
UPDATE 4/16/19: Please note that this overview refers to the version of Medicare for America introduced in December 2018. There's a revised version of the bill being re-introduced in the near future which is expected to include several important changes. The only two which have been made public so far are: 1) Deductibles are expected to be eliminated altogether; and 2) the upper-end percent-of-income maximum premium is supposed to drop from 9.69% to an even 9.0%.
There's a half-dozen or more different healthcare policy overhaul bills which are being batted around by Congressional Democrats these days, ranging from the fairly modest ("lower the Medicare buy-in to age 50!") up through the full-blown, "pure" Single Payer bill being pushed by Bernie Sanders & other "Medicare for All" activists.