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Without Medicare for All, the Healthcare System Will Collapse - Wendell Potter RAI (7/7) The healthcare system is unsustainable; without a Medicare for All system, only the wealthiest will be able to afford decent care - Wendell Potter on Reality ...
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PAUL JAY Welcome back to Reality Asserts Itself on The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay. And we're continuing our discussion about health care and more with Wendell Potter. Thanks for joining us again.
WENDELL POTTER Thank you, Paul.
PAUL JAY So you've got to watch the previous segments. You'll get Wendell's story. Let me just mention one more time his book Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on how Corporate PR Is Killing Healthcare and Deceiving Americans.
So we've talked in the previous couple of segments about what's wrong with the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, that has really benefited insurance companies in the end more than it did most people. Some of the reforms are positive, compared to no ACA. But not nearly what it seemed, what it was promising. So the debate in the Democratic Party now is fix ACA, because you can't pass Medicare for All if it's going to be called socialist, which is what the Republicans are calling it, and even some Democrats? And of course, socialism is terrible. Imagine having a right to health care when you're born. It's kind of funny, growing up in Canada, which is not a socialist country, and a lot of people actually wished it was, but that being said, practically part of the Canadian identity is being proud of having socialized health care. But that being said, the politics of the Democratic Partyand I think a lot of this will play out in the primarywill be that fixing ACA is a lot more doable than trying to pass Medicare for All, if for no other reason that the private insurance companies will go to war with the Democratic Party to stop Medicare for All. Anyway, what do you make of this debate?
WENDELL POTTER Well, a lot of Democrats, the ones that I would refer to as corporate Democrats, those who take a lot of money still from corporate interests, including health care interests, they're under the influence of the lobbyists for those companies, and have been persuaded by those lobbyists that private insurers have a legitimate role to play in our health care system.
PAUL JAY So under the influence means they're getting money.
WENDELL POTTER Exactly right. They're getting big campaign checks. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee brings in a boatload of money from health insurance companies and health care providers, so they don't want those checks to stop. So they are in many cases not favoring Medicare for All because insurance lobbyists don't want that. They're under some delusion that the insurance industry will be more favorably inclined to support some half measures; something that would, for example, create a public option, which is something that the insurance industry will fight just as fiercely as moving to Medicare for All.
PAUL JAY Well, let's let's stop there for a minute at the public option, because back in 2009 before the ACA hearings began you thought a public option should be on the table. It really wasn't. There was a talk of public option, Obama kind of mentioned it, but certainly his heart was never in it. He didn't give it any real play. And it got off the table pretty fast. A public option, if I understand it correctly, you can go to these exchanges, and you'd be able to choose private insurance. But if you wanted to there would be a Medicare-style plan you could buy into. Now, since ACA, and more recently, a lot of the advocates of Medicare for All, including like the nurses union and others, they don't want a public option on the table. They think it's kind of a distraction from getting Medicare for All, and they just want this focus on Medicare for All. What do you make of this public option versus just full blown Medicare for All?
WENDELL POTTER Well, you're right. During the debate on what became the Affordable Care Act, I supported the creation of a public option. The reason was because there was no talk about moving to Medicare for All, for one thing, and a public option was as good as we possibly could get.
PAUL JAY Well, there was talk. Sanders and others were talking about it. But it certainly wasn't on the table in terms of the Democratic Party politics of the day. I mean, Obama was against it.
WENDELL POTTER He was against it, although at some time in his past he'd said we needed to have it. And if we could start all over again with a clean slate, that's what we should have. But during his presidency he certainly was not receptive to any conversation about moving to a Medicare for All type of system. So that's all we could get back then. It was the one thing that I thought might make sure, even as Obama said, as you correctly noted, he was not so strongly in favor. But he at one point did say that we needed to have a public option, if for no other reason than to keep private insurance companies honest. I agreed with that. This could have, could have possibly had been a way that could have created a new competitor for private insurance companies.
PAUL JAY The critique of public option I've heard is that it would allow the private insurance companies to cherry pick. They could kind of force, through deductibles and other means, people off who have illnesses and need a lot of health care into the public option and out of the private option, and actually just increase their profitability.
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