Monday, January 18, 2016

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice . . .

One of the reasons Bernie Sanders’ sun is rising - and Hillary Clinton’s is setting – is their difference over government-paid generic medical insurance.  (Which, of course, they still call “healthcare”).

Bernie favors a single-payer arrangement he calls Medicare for All. This is popular among the self-described progressives in the Democrat Party, and among the American left. It’s popular because its leading advocates – e.g., Bernie – promise it will give everyone better coverage, will cost less, and will be easy to use. What’s not to like?

Contrast Hillary who favors fixing Obamacare, or at least she says she favors fixing Obamacare.  Her major objection to Bernie’s plan is that Medicare for All would cost too much, and therefore require even higher taxes to pay for it. That’s less popular among progressives/leftists, partly because Obamacare has become so unpopular, and partly because Hillary does not promise wonderful things for free.  It’s also less popular outside Hillary’s orbit because of the growing recognition that Obamacare already costs too much and is probably not fixable.  Anyway, for the first time in almost 25 years, Hillary does not hold high ground on medical insurance - and the polls reflect that.

There’s an interesting back story here.  At least two states have already tried to design workable single-payer plans for their residents. Both gave up because of high cost. One of them is Connecticut, the other is Bernie’s own Vermont.

In 2007, Connecticut shut down its state single-payer project because it would have cost more than the entire state budget.

And in 2014, Vermont shut down its state single-payer project. With Bernie’s help, Vermont had received $45 million federal funding to design such a program for the Green Mountain People’s Republic.  Vermont hired Top Men for the design group, including the notorious Jonathan Gruber from MIT.   But Vermont shut down its project because it would have cost almost as much as the entire state budget.  Vermont supporters of single-payer didn’t like that because, they claimed, savings would far outweigh the costs.  Ever hear that before?

This backstory is not exactly secret, but hasn’t been much reported, either.  During 2016, the candidates’ differences over government-paid generic medical insurance will likely become much more prominent.  Superficially Medicare for All does look better than Obamacare, I think mainly because Obamacare is so dysfunctional.  Let’s not forget Obamacare was deceptively sold to America by the progressive/left wing of the Democrat party; the Democrat-majority Congress passed Obamacare without a single Republican yea in either the House or Senate; and then we found that all along, the progressive/leftists consider Americans “stupid”.

My opinion?  None of the promises progressive/leftists make about Medicare for All – more coverage, for less cost, and simpler administration - survive thoughtful analysis from experts other than the partisan progressive/leftists themselves.  Technically, there are huge flaws that cannot be ignored.  Politically, fancy promises about how great it’s gonna be, have been made before by the same people, and spectacularly failed to materialize.  Exhibit A:  Obamacare.  Fool me once . . . etc.
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