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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/21/19

Simple Healthcare Question Sets Up Complex Policy Debate

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Pete Buttigieg
Pete Buttigieg
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Surging presidential contender Pete Buttigieg likes simple yes or no questions, especially when it comes to Medicare for All proposals. We learned this fact at last week's Democratic debate in Ohio. The young man from Indiana made his point when he confronted Sen. Elizabeth Warren. She is the possible front runner for the Democratic nomination. The winner will take on corrupt President Donald Trump, or whomever the Republicans "get stuck with," to quote a phrase Warren deployed on the debate stage.

Last week, Buttigieg pressed his attack on Warren, according to a report in USA Today. click here

"Well, we heard it tonight, a yes or no question that didn't get a yes or no answer," Buttigieg said. He added, "Look, this is why people here in the Midwest are so frustrated with Washington in general and Capitol Hill in particular. Your signature, Senator, is to have a plan for everything. Except this."

Buttigieg says enactment of Medicare for All, supported by Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders, will force politicians to raise taxes on middle class Americans. The focus on taxes ignores the equally important question of costs. For instance, Sanders contends taxes will go up but costs will decline for regular folk. So, Buttigieg proposes a variation on a theme, which he calls Medicare for All Who Want It.

His website says that "everyone will be able to opt in to an affordable, comprehensive public alternative. This affordable public plan will incentivize private insurers to compete on price and bring down costs. If private insurers are not able to offer something dramatically better, this public plan will create a natural glide-path to Medicare for All."

In a link that describes his proposal in detail, Buttigieg argues, " If corporate insurers are unable or unwilling to lower costs or offer plans that are dramatically better than what's available today, competition from this public insurance alternative will naturally lead to Medicare for All."
click here

This is smart politics. It lets millions of Americans with private insurance decide what they want to do. But what happens if Americans decide to put insurance companies out of business and purchase a Medicare-type plan as a public option? Will voters also push Congress to increase benefits offered under a public option? Will this increase costs and taxes? So, is the issue really taxes or costs for consumers and the quality of coverage offered by competing Medicare For All plans?

I will vote for Warren in the March 17 primary in Florida. But I like Mayor Pete as a moderate-to-liberal alternative to the proud progressives who are waking up the Democratic Party. For several decades now, the donkey has not done enough braying to address the need for higher wages, healthcare cost containment for all, and other issues of justice and equality, including voting rights. Mayor Pete agrees with Sanders and Warren when he notes we must do much more than replace our problem president.

The good news is the barrage of questions have forced Warren to announce she will soon share with us her plan to pay for Medicare for All. click here Release of the Warren plan sets up the debate many politicians and reporters have been avoiding. I look forward to listening to two very thoughtful Democrats - Buttigieg and Warren -- get into the weeds. That's probably the best way for voters to avoid grabbing hold of poison ivy.

(Article changed on October 22, 2019 at 11:08)

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Steve Schneider lives in Florida. He writes articles for Humor Times, Democracy Chronicles, The Satirist and OpEd News.

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