August 14, 2020
Health care and the elections–– Issue #96

The health reform debate has taken a new focus during the coronavirus crisis, with a greater emphasis on innovation to produce treatments and vaccines, different options for accessing care, and the great harm done when people aren’t able to get needed surgeries, cancer care, and other non-COVID treatments.

Health care, including COVID, is poised once again to be the key issue in the upcoming elections, and once again, conservatives need to be ready to explain their plans.

Voters’ confidence in conservatives collapsed after the failure of repeal and replace in 2017.  Americans know the ACA failed in its promise to lower costs and get to near-universal coverage, and they were and are poised for change they didn’t get.

Health insurance premiums doubled in the individual market in the first four years after the ACA was implemented.  And despite spending $248 billion in its first six years, only a net 600,000 additional people gained insurance.  That is, according to a paper by my colleague Doug Badger, a cost of $69,000 a year per newly insured person.

Despite this, Democratic presidential near-nominee Joe Biden wants to double down on Obamacare by increasing subsidies for ACA policies and allowing more people to access the subsidies. And the “public option” plan he proposes would crush the market for private health insurance by making it impossible for private plans to compete on a very unlevel playing field.  This is not a good plan.

His vice-presidential choice, Sen. Kamala Harris, is likely to bring an even more leftward tilt to the ticket’s health reform proposals, as Pacific Research Foundation President Sally Pipes writes for the Washington Examiner and as Chris Holt of American Action Forum writes in his weekly newsletter, based upon her early and enthusiastic support for Medicare for All.

If the coming election is about healthcare, we must have something we’re for, as the punishing 2018 election results showed.  According to exit polls from the 2018 midterm, 75% of voters who said health care was their top issue supported the Democrat candidate for Congress.

The Health Policy Consensus Group has taken the lead in developing a new generation of health reform with our Health Care Choices Plan.  We released the plan in 2018 and have spent many months updating it. It is a robust answer to Medicare for All and its derivatives and is an answer for a coronavirus world by offering better options for vulnerable patients, lower costs, and greater security with portable health insurance.

We will be releasing our updated plan soon, so watch this space. It offers realistic, practical solutions and is underpinned by a vision to shape the better, brighter health care future we believe can be ahead.
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