Let me preface this post by saying I’m an advocate of single-payer health care. Nothing I’m about to write negates that. I’m just writing about political reality.
Yesterday, four GOP Senators came out against the current Senate version of the odious TrumpCare ACA Repeal Bill, tossing a bit of a monkey wrench into their plans to move ahead to a vote.
Their internal fight makes this the perfect time for Democrats to roll out an Obamacare fix bill, and present a positive vision for the future of health care, to America. Part of that vision must be introduction of a public option on the Obamacare exchanges, in the form of a Medicare buy-in. Here’s why.
A Medicare buy-in presents a simple, easy to grasp, positive alternative to the creeping death that TrumpCare will bring.
The framing works: We could punish people with TrumpCare, which will make insurance unaffordable for tens of millions, and hurt those facing hard times, or we can add a permanent, affordable, quality option to all Obamacare exchanges – Medicare. Why should seniors have all the fun with high quality care? Make this an even freer country. Let everyone buy into Medicare, if they want to opt in.
The key is ‘opt in.’ No one is going to be forced to take it. If private insurance can do it better and cheaper, people should obviously go with them, on the exchange. In fact, that is the point – to make private insurance face real competition, driving down rates and increasing quality.
The politics of it also works.
The Blue Dog Democrats, who killed the public option when Obamacare was being written, are mostly gone from Congress. But, a Medicare buy-in proposal tables the debate over single-payer, which is still being ironed out within the caucus. It allows Democrats to focus on fighting TrumpCare, and not each other.
Being in the minority, and knowing that Republicans won’t pass a Democratic bill gives the caucus the luxury of not having to fight over details. They can unveil a bill that paints a picture in broad strokes – strengthen Medicaid, firm-up subsidies for those on hard times, uphold essential benefits, and give people the choice to buy Medicare. Simple.
In the end, it’s a clean and it’s powerful message. We have a choice, America. Start a race to the bottom, saddle you with higher premiums and worse care, single out people on hard times and make sure they can’t get care, and allow states to gut insurance standards, or strengthen Obamacare funding, make sure people can afford insurance, and give people the option of buying into the single best system of insurance we have – Medicare.
I think that’s a winning proposal that every single Dem can get behind, right now. Today. While there’s chaos in the GOP, the Dems should offer it up.