What Have the Debates Told Us About the Candidates and Health Care?

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As I thought about this week’s blog post I had a number of ideas. However, as the Primaries, Debates and Caucuses are front and center I thought that I would look at what the debates are telling us about their plans for health care and Obamacare. The Republican strategy seems to be the endless spouting…..we will repeal Obamacare!!!!! If a Republican candidate is elected, the ACA will most likely be on the chopping block as every candidate has said that repealing the measure would be a priority. However, this process is likely to be lengthy and costly as I have been stating in many of my posts.

All the Candidates have been arguing over whose plan is best. Joyce Frieden, news editor, MedPage Today, summarized the yelling and screaming and basically poor behavior of the three leading candidates. Healthcare was front and center at Thursday’s Republican presidential debate as the candidates sparred over who had the best plan and who believed in socialized medicine.

“This is another issue on which Donald [Trump] and I have sharp disagreements,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said at the debate, which was hosted by CNN, Telemundo, and the Salem Media Group. “Both Donald and I say we want to end it, but for very different reasons. I want to end [Obamacare] because it killed millions of jobs and it’s hurting people’s healthcare. Donald wants to end it because he says it doesn’t go nearly far enough.

“For decades, Donald has been advocating socialized medicine … If you’re a small business owner, Donald Trump’s socialized medicine would kill more jobs than Obamacare, and if you are elderly, the result of socialized medicine in every country on earth where it’s been implemented has been rationing … As president, I will repeal every word of Obamacare.” Why rationing? Because socialized medicine has been found to be non-sustainable financially. Therefore, the biggest question is…who will pay for it all??

But Trump, a New York City real estate mogul, disagreed with Cruz’s characterization. “I do not want socialized medicine,” he said. “I do agree that Obamacare is going to be a disaster for the economy. In 2017 it’s going to be impossible for us to pay for it … That’s why it has to be repealed.”

Trump added that he would keep one thing about the Affordable Care Act: the requirement that insurers not discriminate against patients based on their preexisting conditions. “I think we need it,” he said. However, he added, his plan would not require an individual mandate to make sure everyone is insured.

Instead, “we should get rid of lines around states, so there’s great competition,” said Trump. “Preexisting [condition acceptance] will be part of it, but the price will be down, and insurance companies can pay. Right now, they’re making a fortune.”

Ohio governor John Kasich said that he also would not leave the individual mandate in place, and he agreed that preexisting conditions should not be discriminated against. “I don’t want any American to lose their house because they get sick,” Kasich said.

“I’d repeal Obamacare, take some of the federal resources, combine them with the freed-up Medicaid program, which I would send back to the states and cover the people who are currently the working poor.”

Kasich also said he would work toward greater transparency among hospitals and providers. “It’s easier to interpret the Dead Sea Scrolls than to understand your hospital bill,” he said. Under his plan, “we would make payments to physicians and hospital that deliver healthcare with great quality at low prices.”

In Ohio, he continued, “the plan we’re enacting now, if you’re a doctor and you’re below the midpoint [on costs], we’re going to give you a financial reward for [providing] services at high quality for lower prices. We’ll begin to see healthcare become affordable in America … this is not a theory, this is what we’re doing in our state.”

Ben Carson, MD, a retired pediatric neurosurgeon, argued that “Healthcare is not a right, but I do believe it is a responsibility for a responsible society, and we are that.” Carson said he would institute his own version of health savings accounts, which he called Health Empowerment Accounts — “like health savings accounts with no bureaucrats.”

The money in the empowerment accounts would be able to be transferred between family members, “making every family their own insurance carrier,” Carson said. “That gives you enormous flexibility … And catastrophic healthcare is going to cost a lot less money” because the empowerment account will take care of non-urgent healthcare needs.

Now I really like Dr. Carson and have worked with Ben, but the average person doesn’t or will not take the time to investigate these Health Empowerment Accounts and actually make the attempt to set up these accounts. Also, what will happen with those who are unemployed, don’t pay their taxes or just not interested, how will we cover these potential patients??

Florida senator Marco Rubio said under his plan, employers could still provide health insurance if they wanted to, or they could give their employees money to for workers to buy any type of health insurance they would like, including a health savings account coupled with a private wraparound insurance plan. And if people couldn’t get coverage through their employer, the government could give them a refundable tax credit they could use to help them buy health insurance. “That, I think, is a much better approach than Obamacare,” he said.

A few other healthcare-related topics also were discussed at the debate. Trump criticized Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts because “he gave us Obamacare; it might as well be called Robertscare.” Trump noted that Cruz had supported Roberts’s nomination “and I know Ted feels badly about it, but that judge has been a disaster in terms of everything we stand for. Ted very, very strongly pushed Judge Roberts but he gave us something we didn’t really want.”

Trump also discussed Planned Parenthood, noting that although “millions of women” are helped by the organization, “I would defund it because I’m pro-life.” Cruz, for his part, said he would “instruct the Department of Justice to investigate them and prosecute any and all criminal violations.”

 

OK, what about our Democrat candidates- Ms. Hillary Clinton and oh yes or Socialist, Mr. Bernie Sanders?? The healthcare issues Democratic candidates have primarily focused on include the Affordable Care Act, drug pricings, reproductive and mental healthcare. Unsurprisingly, the presidential hopefuls say they would uphold the ACA, even though critics say Bernie Sander’s plan to establish a single-payer system would in fact require the 2010 law to be repealed. Both Clinton and Sanders have stressed that healthcare is a basic human right.

What about Hillary Clinton?

Last month, Clinton told AOL.com, “We are 90% covered, we gotta get to 100%, and then we gotta get cost down and make it work for everybody. And even though we didn’t get it then, we’ve got it now and I’m going to defend it and improve it.”

The former U.S. Secretary of State, Clinton has proposed to build on the ACA to reduce out-of-pocket and drug costs. She has said she would defend the law from any efforts to repeal it, though she did appeal to Congress to repeal the controversial Cadillac tax, due to kick in 2020, which seeks to address healthcare overconsumption yet critics have deemed it a problematic policy. Additionally, she believes Medicare should have the authority to negotiate for all drugs and pushback against drug companies that ask for really high prices.

Clinton is the only candidate that has expressed concerns about megamergers between health insurers, such as the proposed Aetna/Humana and Cigna/Anthem mergers.

Single-payer will never pass, Clinton says.

Her main objective would be to establish a universal healthcare system. Single-payer will “never, ever pass,” she told an Iowa crowd. She also has proposed to exempt three doctor’s visits a year from insurance deductibles, provide a refundable tax credit of up to $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families for people who spend more than 5% of their income on out-of-pocket healthcare expenses, and modify unreasonable insurance rate hikes.

In September 2015, Clinton released her healthcare and prescription drug plan, which included stopping direct-to-consumer drug company advertising subsidies and reinvesting in research, requiring drug companies that benefit from taxpayers’ support to invest in research, and capping monthly and annual out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs.

This week, Politico reported the Clinton campaign has updated her website to show backing for a public option.

As president, Clinton stated she would continue her efforts to ensure women have access to reproductive healthcare and defend Planned Parenthood.

And now the wondrous Socialist Democrat, Bernie Sanders!

 

While Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) single-payer healthcare system, which would give the government leverage to lower drug prices, might in theory be popular, critics say the numbers in his plan do not add up.

Gerald Friedman, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst,said Sanders’ healthcare plan could help increase wages and dramatically reduce the country’s poverty rate. In an open letter, four Democratic economists criticized Sanders’ plan. “As much as we wish it were so, no credible economic research supports economic impacts of these magnitudes,” the economists wrote.

In September 2015, Sanders, along with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) pushed for a bill called the Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015 that would give Medicare the authority to negotiate for all drugs, and the ability to import cheaper drugs from Canada. A congressional committee is considering the bill before sending it to the House or Senate.

If he takes office, he stated he plans to pay for the establishment of the “Medicare-for-all system,” which he estimates will cost about $1.38 trillion annually, by raising taxes. Sanders also wants to eliminate private health insurance premiums, deductibles, and cost-sharing, which he says would result in more than $5,000 in savings each year for the average family.

He says his plan would “cover the entire continuum of healthcare, from inpatient to outpatient care; preventive to emergency care; primary care to specialty care, including long-term and palliative care; vision, hearing and oral healthcare; mental health and substance abuse services; as well as prescription medications, medical equipment, supplies, diagnostics and treatments.” The only problem as I keep repeating is, who will pay for all the free care?

Now allow me some rant time. What are the collective Republicans thinking?

Do they really think that they can repeal Obamacare, that they can change the LAW?

Yet change must come, because the math behind ObamaCare isn’t adding up. With companies like Unitedhealthcare, Aetna and Humana reporting unanticipated large losses, there is ample reason for concern about the entire system’s future. That means that as we assess the remaining candidates and scrutinize their platforms closely, we can’t ignore health care. We can no longer allow ourselves to consider candidates who either choose not to be honest about the issue, or simply don’t understand it.

We must ask: Do the candidates’ proposals make sense? Are they economically sound? Are they serious alternatives or adjustments to what we currently have … or are they just catchwords used to get our attention?

But there’s one thing we know for sure: ObamaCare, as it stands right now, is unsustainable. It’s broken, it needs to be fixed and it won’t be fixed without a genuine plan.

Look at the majorities in both the Senate and the House. They have had plenty of time to make changes and have done nothing!! I predict with the dissatisfaction that that may change also. And they want to wait for the next President before they will accept a nominee for the Supreme Court justice vacancy.

And do they think that Trump, Cruz or Rubio, but especially Trump, can defeat Hillary. The female public and the minorities wants a woman President and no matter what wrongs that she has committed, she is more experienced, especially in skirting the laws of the country. The Republican Party leaders , especially Reince Priebus, must be smoking “weed” at all their strategy meetings if they think that President Obama and the Attorney General are going to let Hillary be indicted, no matter what the Head of the FBI recommends. And most of the population is sooo sick and tired of hearing about Bengasi, even though this is a real issue, but the Republicans have been punishing us with so much “information” and “misinformation”, which all sounds like party politics.

The Republican Party really needs real leadership. Trump is making the Party cow tow to his wishes, because if he doesn’t get the nomination he is going to take his rants, yells money and tears and go play in another playground…and become an Independent candidate for President.

What a state of affairs that we have brought down on ourselves. Are there no sensible, smart people out there who recognize this situation for what it really is and are really willing to change to the system for the betterment of this wonderful country?

Oh, and my almost favorite Republican candidate, who thru in the towel a few weeks ago after his poor showing in New Hampshire, you really support Mr. Trump as the best candidate for the highest office in our country. We know why you are doing this. You want the job of Vice President or a Cabinet post? However, for Trump to win against Hillary he needs a Vice President that is a minority…or a woman.

We the People have to demand that our candidates stop delivering grandiose ideas and catchy slogans that have no substance behind them. It’s high time we held their feet to the fire, because our health and well-being are literally at stake.

Enough of my rant for the week, please America think about our next 4-8 years!!!

 

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