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Friday, May 5, 2017

Let's get to the heart of the healthcare debate


   As the Republican led Congress continues to struggle with the healthcare issue and the Obamacare program it is important to understand where each side stands on how healthcare is provided.  The progressive side wants to expand the number of people with health insurance coverage.  The conservative side wants to have the government get out of the business of trying to expand healthcare through subsidies and regulation.  For conservatives the private healthcare market should be in control and determine how many people have health insurance.  Conservatives of course lose if the argument is framed as I have just explained.   They use the argument that getting the government out of the health care business will provide people with more choices at lower cost.  How many times did we hear Trump say this exact thing without and concrete plan to back up his words.
    The Republican plan would give states the choice on what is mandated in health insurance in their state.  This would permit conservative states to have health insurance plans that would charge huge premiums with large deductibles to those with pre existing conditions.  One Representative even said people with pre existing conditions should move as a way of getting coverage for their preexisting condition.
     What are some of the possible improvements that could be made to Obamacare that would expand healthcare coverage in a way that could also be cost effective?   Here is an article in the American Prospect magazine that looks at lowering the age to be eligible for Medicare, bringing back the public option and increasing public subsidies to purchase insurance.  Allowing for the importation of drugs from Canada would also lower the exploding costs that Americans pay for their medicine.   I am not sure why the Democratic leaders in Congress are sitting back and waiting for the Republican plan to fail before they present any of the preceding ideas as a way to improve Obamacare for real.  It's one thing to put it in your party's platform but another thing to introduce the ideas as legislation.  Is Independent Bernie Sanders the only one up for the battle?

      If it is going to be impossible to get anything progressive at the national level then maybe states like Maryland should look at developing our own public option plan here.

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