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At Debate, Dem Candidates Offer A Non-Choice On Healthcare

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Paul Sancya

At last night’s debate, Democratic presidential hopefuls appeared to offer voters a choice between the radical “Medicare-for-All” and a more tempered “Medicare for those who need it.”

But much like the proposals themselves, this “choice" is all smoke and mirrors. The Democratic candidates are forcing us to decide between ridiculousness and redundancy.

Senators Sanders and Warren were the two on stage advocating for a full-blown government overhaul of healthcare. It comes as no surprise that the proposal, which months ago had the backing of almost half the contenders, has since lost its momentum. 

In fact, the more Americans understand about Medicare-for-All, the less likely they are to support it. The crux of this discontent lies with the proposal’s plan to abolish all private health insurance in favor of a government plan. This may not sit well with the over 70% of Americans who appreciate their current private insurance. The 33 trillion-dollar proposal that promises more government coverage than anything ever tried around the world is a radical and ridiculous proposition. 

Realizing Medicare-for-All’s dwindling popularity, the rest of the Democratic field has offered some variation of a Medicare expansion to supplement the private insurance market. But they seem to forget that there already are expanded, heavily-subsidized government options for low-income Americans: Medicaid and Obamacare. 

In fact, thanks to Obamacare, anyone within 133% of the poverty line qualifies for free government insurance. Those within 400% qualify for government subsidies. This leaves less than 9% of US adults without any insurance today (not seventy million as Senator Sanders claimed). Of those, only 45% say they go without insurance because they cannot afford it. The majority are simply exercising their right not to purchase a good (as bizarre as this may seem to socialists like Senators Sanders and Warren).

In other words, offering another public option, as supported by leading candidates like Biden, Buttigieg and Beto, would only be relevant to a small proportion of Americans. It would not be a “revolution” in healthcare, but rather, a redundancy. 

Don’t forget, President Obama already tried to forcibly expand the number of Americans with health insurance, tossing away our Constitutional right to choose what to buy and to whom to sell. As the insurance market was flooded with the sickest Americans and overburdened with silly regulations, prices sky-rocketed, leaving behind that small proportion of middle-low income Americans. Meanwhile, the rest of low-income Americans are currently buying plans heavily subsidized with taxpayer dollars, i.e. at the expense of a $22 trillion-dollar debt for future generations. The original Obamacare didn’t work. Obamacare 2.0 won’t either. 

Today, Democrats are vying to help this small proportion of uninsured or underinsured Americans with plans similar to those that got us in this mess in the first place. Just like the Obama administration rammed the unpopular Affordable Care Act through Congress, so are today’s candidates trying to force government insurance on many who don’t want or need it. They claim to be offering Americans another option, and yet, their proposals would raise taxes and restrict our choices when it comes to health insurance and care. 

The choice we’ve been presented on stage is just as deceptive as the Medicare “choice” they want to give us in health insurance. If Democrats get their way, the American people will be left deciding between a catastrophic dismantling of private healthcare, or a tepid continuation of the failed policies that got us here. Unlike deciding on health insurance, that is not a choice we should have to make.

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