Health Care Debate Continues in Presidential Campaign 

By Max Friedman 

24397320205_bffeb97d49_bAnother week, another primary.

Today, New Hampshire voters decide on the Democratic and Republican candidates — possibly setting a tone for the rest of the primary season. In the last week since the Iowa caucuses, both parties have held televised debates which touched on health care reform, and commentators have continued to offer their views of the emerging debate.

First, the Republicans:

  • The first question posed at Saturday night’s debate on ABC was to Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz and Dr. Ben Carson regarding their health care proposals.
  • Trump focused on a proposal to enable health insurance to be sold across state lines. He doesn’t note that it is already included in the ACA through interstate compacts.  As Margot Sanger-Katz of the New York Times pointed out, there is no federal impediment to this, but states would have to approve, and they largely prefer the ability to regulate insurance sold within their borders. Another problem is that it is difficult for insurance carriers to build networks in areas where they do not already have a presence. Cruz reiterated that point.
  • Carson discussed his plan to broaden health savings accounts coupled with catastrophic insurance coverage.
  • Voters didn’t get to hear any proposals from other candidates, including Ohio Governor John Kasich, who expanded Medicaid in his state over objections in his party.

Now, the Democrats:

  • Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton debated on MSNBC on Thursday night and briefly discussed health care reform. Not much has changed in this debate since the last time we discussed it before the Iowa caucuses. Clinton prefers to work within the ACA to strengthen and broaden it, while Sanders favors a single-payer system. Both proclaim that they want true universal health care.
  •  In the Guardian, Scott Lemieux says that they are both right. “Sanders is correct that while the Affordable Care Act was a major progressive achievement, the American healthcare system still insures too few people for far too much money, and considerably more needs to be done. And Clinton is right that it’s possible to build European-style healthcare out of the framework created by the ACA.” Lemieux highlights other models of universal coverage besides single-payer systems seen in Canada and the United Kingdom.

As the campaign continues, we can expect more debate and discussion on what the next president will do on health care — and we’ll keep watching and reporting on it.


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