The Iowa Caucuses were held last night and with it, primary season is now officially here. Voting has begun, and we’re now less than a month from “Super Tuesday,” where 14 states will hold their primaries. March 3 will get here before you know, so it’s the perfect time to look at where the leading Democratic front-runners stand on the issue of health care.
The number one issue for voters in 2020 will be “electability,” no doubt about it, but that’s just an idea/belief, it’s not policy or platform. Also, electability is a bit of a misnomer anyway. Health care, which in realpolitik means health insurance, is the primary issue that voters need to be up to speed on.
It’s time to talk Medicare, pre-existing conditions, general liability insurance, network coverage, exemptions, deductibles et al. Basically, you can break it down into two camps, the “Medicare for All” single-payer plan, or the public option. The former is supported by Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. The latter is supported by the rest of the candidates who still have a realistic shot at winning the nomination.
The second major divide is on the topic private insurers. Sanders and Warren essentially support the elimination of private insurance while Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg and Amy Klobuchar do not see a need to do away with them. Pete Buttigieg and Andrew Yang have found middle ground, believing the private insurance can stay in place, for now. Both the Washington Post and NPR have extensive, detailed articles that feature a lot of easy-to-read graphs and charts.
It’s too bad that media coverage of the Iowa Caucuses last night didn’t cover the issues a whole lot, and instead fixated on the process itself primarily, with the general horse race itself the secondary topic. We really didn’t learn a whole lot about the actual issues and where people stand on them too much on Monday night.
A third major divide on the issue of healthcare stems from how the candidates answer this question- should Americans be required to have insurance? Just about everybody says yes. No one says no, while the two billionaires, Bloomberg and Tom Steyer have not provided a clear stance. Since we’re on the topic of billions of dollars, the natural, logical question to ask about health insurance is how will the government pay for it?
Well, let’s take a look at the fiscal year 2017 federal spending, which was just under $4 trillion. Healthcare (includes Medicare and Medicaid) totaled $1,077B or 27% of national spending. Social Security cost $939B, comprising 24%, non-defense discretionary spending for Departments and Agencies ran $610B or 15% of the budget, with the Defense Department outlaying $590B or 15% and interest running up a $263B or 7% tab.
While health care spending was almost double the budget for the Dept. of Defense, it doesn’t really tell the whole story. The United States spends more on national defense than the next seven countries combined! For every dollar that China, the second biggest military spender in the world, puts forth for national defense, the United States spends $2.77! So the money is there for health care, it’s just a matter of priorities.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation.
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Filed under: Policy