Quote of the Day: Next Time, Health Care Reform Will Be a Real War

From Harold Pollack, mild-mannered professor at the University of Chicago, on the strategy for health care reform when Democrats return to power:

Democrats will be much more ruthless the next time around.

Pollack explains this further in more academic tones, but I’m not sure he needs to. Basically, Republicans waged a relentless 7-year war against a program even as moderate and market-friendly as Obamacare. It’s obvious that being moderate and market-friendly buys you nothing these days, so what’s the point? Why not just give the public what it really wants: a simple, universal health care system funded by taxes? How much worse can the war be?

This is all in response to a new proposal from the Center for American Progress called Medicare Extra for All. This is not the most euphonious name ever invented, but I suppose it gets the point across. MEFA basically does this:

  • Makes Medicare better.
  • Provides it to anyone who needs it.
  • Allows private plans to stay around as long as they provide care pretty similar to MEFA.

The cost of enrolling in MEFA would be zero for families under 150 percent of the poverty level (currently $25,000 for a family of four), and on a sliding scale ranging from 1-10 percent of income for everyone above that level. Employers could continue to offer private insurance or could pay to enroll their workers in MEFA. There would be cost controls and various funding sources. Here is CAP’s summary:

Roughly speaking, this is national health care (everyone is insured) but with premium payments for some people instead of just funding the whole thing through taxes. It’s still more complicated than it needs to be, and I assume this is because the CAP authors want to keep the cost down and the extra taxes minimal. In other words, perhaps Democrats still aren’t being ruthless enough. But I suppose that’s easy for me to say.

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