Expanding Medicare Is All The Rage For Candidates Right Now, But What Kind Of Coverage Does It Really Offer?
"Medicare for All" plans have become something of a litmus test among progressive voters, but a look at how Medicare currently operates--and the treatments it does and does not cover--reveals the pitfalls that await if a proposal like that is ever passed. Meanwhile, candidates get tripped up by private insurers' role in a new health system. And while many are painting the picture of a health system in crisis, the numbers provide a more nuanced reality.
The New York Times:
A Question Rarely Asked: What Would Medicare For All Cover?
In the first congressional hearing held on “Medicare for all” in April, Michael Burgess, a Republican congressman from Texas and a physician, called such a proposal “frightening” because it could limit the treatments available to patients. The debate over Medicare for all has largely focused on access and taxpayer cost, but this raises a question that hasn’t gotten much attention: What treatments would it cover? A good starting place for answers is to look at how traditional Medicare currently handles things. In one sense, there are some important elements that Medicare does not cover — and arguably should. But a little digging into the rules governing treatments also reveals that Medicare allows a lot of low-value care — which it arguably should not. (Frakt and Pearson, 7/29)
The Wall Street Journal:
Medicare For All Instead Of Private Health Insurance? Question Vexes 2020 Democrats
Democratic presidential candidates launched their campaigns promising to expand health-care coverage. But in the second set of Democratic debates, front-runners backing Medicare for All will likely have to defend their pledges to take private health insurance away in the process. Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warrenmade headlines in the first pair of debates by raising their hands in support of ending private coverage. Other Democratic contenders have criticized that position by saying it goes too far. It is an uncommon stance, even in the global health-care debate: Most countries with government health systems also have private health plans. (Armour, 7/28)
The Associated Press:
Despite Calls To Start Over, US Health System Covers 90%
America's much-maligned health care system is covering 9 out of 10 people, a fact that hasn't stopped the 2020 presidential candidates from refighting battles about how to provide coverage, from Bernie Sanders' call for replacing private insurance with a government plan to President Donald Trump's pledge to erase the Affordable Care Act and start over. The politicians are depicting a system in meltdown. The numbers point to a different story, not as dire and more nuanced. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 7/27)
In other 2020 news —
The Associated Press Fact Check:
2020 Democrats And Their Grasp Of The Facts
The Democratic presidential contenders have some inconvenient truths to grapple with. It's not easy, for example, to summon foreboding words on the economy — accurately — when the U.S. has been having its longest expansion in history. Health care for all raises questions of costs to average taxpayers that the candidates are loath to confront head on. (7/28)
The Associated Press:
Biden's Full Embrace Of Obama Health Law Has Political Risks
Joe Biden had just rolled out his health care plan when he made what could be a fateful pledge to a crowd in Iowa: "If you like your health care plan or your employer-based plan, you can keep it." The remark echoed assurances President Barack Obama made repeatedly as he sold the Affordable Care Act, which became known as "Obamcare." But Obama's promise proved an exaggeration, if not a falsehood, and it anchored early GOP attacks on the law as new regulations led private insurers to cancel certain policies, even if they had to offer replacements to consumers. (7/28)
Jay Inslee Is Running For President On Climate Change. But Health Care Is His Real Selling Point
Jay Inslee is running for president as the climate change candidate. But the two-term Washington state governor can credibly claim to have accomplished more than most of his peers on health care, a signature issue in the 2020 campaign. (Goldberg, 7/27)
Iowa Public Radio:
Advocates Call On Presidential Candidates To Prioritize Water Policy
A coalition of environmental groups wants presidential candidates to treat drinking water as a top policy priority, and is asking them to build out their positions on how to ensure access to safe and affordable water for all Americans. But some politicos are skeptical the issue can compete for voters' attention at a time when much of the conversation is focusing on universal health care, the economy and climate change. (Payne, 7/26)