After going back and forth and back and forth about whether she would eliminate private insurance and shove every American into Medicare, Kamala Harris thinks she’s found a solution.
Shove everyone into Medicare, but do it a little more slowly and pretend that private insurers will still be involved.
No doubt the Democratic California senator is reading the same polls as everyone else. Namely, that the public thinks it likes “Medicare for All” until it learns what it means. Then support evaporates. But Harris still wants to appeal to the Democrats’ increasingly socialist base.
So, voilà. She’s proposing to let people choose between regular Medicare and Medicare Advantage, which currently lets seniors pick from privately run, government-subsidized insurance plans and which is increasingly popular with retirees — 22 million of whom are now on an Advantage plan.
Seems like a reasonable compromise, doesn’t it?
It was enough to get the hopelessly biased and uninformed mainstream press to buy into her ruse, with headlines saying how Harris is “forging her own path” on health care with a plan that “won’t kill private insurance” and, in fact, “provides a role for private insurance.”
But the only difference between her Medicare for All and Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All is that Sanders is being honest about what he intends to do, while Harris is being incredibly, but not very competently, deceptive.
That’s because Harris knows full well that private insurance won’t survive under her scheme, either.
Harris says that, unlike Sander’s four-year timeline, she’d implement at 10-year transition period toward Medicare for All, during which people would slowly migrate over to the new and improved Medicare or privately run Medicare Advantage plans.
Private insurance won’t last that long, and even if it did, her plan would kill off whatever remains.
Try to imagine the investors’ reaction to this. Aware that private insurance as we know it is going away, they would immediately dump their shares in these companies. Who would want to hold onto stock in an industry that has no real future?
Health insurance stocks plunged after Rep. Pramila Jayapal merely introduced her version of Medicare for All in the House — even though it had no chance of going anywhere. Should Harris win, investors would sell whatever shares they had in private health insurance companies, driving the industry’s market capitalization from well over $200 billion to somewhere in the neighborhood of zero on Nov. 4, 2020.
Even if private insurers aren’t driven out of business in 10 years, Harris’ plan makes it abundantly clear that she has no intention of “preserving” the industry once her transition period is complete.
In the outline published on Tuesday, she says private insurers would be required to provide coverage for everything under the sun — hospital, medical, mental health, abortion services, dental, vision — with apparently no deductibles or co-payments.
And, she says, they’d have to do this while accepting less money than it costs the government to provide those benefits. As Harris puts it, private insurers would be “reimbursed less than what the Medicare plan will cost to operate, to ensure that they are delivering meaningful value and unable to profit off gaming consumers or the government.” (Emphasis added.)
“If they want to play by our rules, they can be in the system,” she says. “If not, they have to get out.”
Since Medicare can dictate payment rates, can spread its administrative costs across the entire federal government, and doesn’t have to pay taxes, it’s impossible to see how any private insurer could play by those rules and survive.
This is to say nothing of the myriad other problems with Harris’ plan, all of which plague every other Democratic proposal, whether branded Medicare for All or Medicare for More or “public option.”
All would vastly expand the role of government in the provision of health care while imposing stiff price controls on doctors, hospitals and drug companies. As we know from the experiences of Canada and Britain — which already have variations on Kamalacare — this will lead to shortages, endless treatment delays, few medical advances, and worse quality of care.
And like all the other Democrats running, Harris doesn’t say how she’d pay for this massive expansion of government, on top of the many other vast new federal programs she envisions.
No matter what label Harris puts on her proposal, or how she tries to fudge the details or make it look “moderate,” it would lead to the same destination socialist Bernie Sanders’ plan is headed toward — a complete government takeover of health care.
Reporters might be dumb enough to believe what Harris is saying. We hope voters aren’t.
— Written by John Merline
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