Ezra Klein, editor-in-chief of the progressive Vox.com, recently tore into Senator Bernie Sanders’ healthcare plan which was released just hours before the fourth Democratic debate.
Calling the plan “vague and unrealistic” in an op-ed, Klein attacked Hillary Clinton for her unfair criticism regarding Sanders’ position on “healthcare-for-all,” but laid into the Senator’s attempts to ward off the attacks by writing:
Only what he released isn’t a plan. It is, to be generous, a gesture towards a future plan. To be less generous — but perhaps more accurate — this is a document that lets Sanders say he has a plan, but doesn’t answer the most important questions about how his plan would work, or what it would mean for most Americans. Sanders is detailed and specific in response to the three main attacks Clinton has launched, but is vague or unrealistic on virtually every other issue. The result is that he answers Clinton’s criticisms while raising much more profound questions about his own ideas.
Here’s what we know from Sanders’ healthcare plan:
- Contrary to Clinton’s contention that the plan would allow states to manage and partially finance it, the truth is the entire program would be federally administered.
- The new plan would raise taxes across the board by 2.2 percent, and a 6.2 percent tax on income-based premiums on employers. A slew of other taxes on the rich and those making over $250,000 would also cover much of the cost. However, Vox warns that the 6.2 percent tax on employers would be passed onto employees through lost wages and higher prices.
- The entire plan, when taking inflation into consideration, will cost the United States $15 trillion over the course of 10 years, but will save consumers over $5,800 in premium costs over the same time period.
Klein offers a severe pessimistic outlook on the probability of Sanders’ healthcare plan. As the article states, the country (and its people) save money through cutting reimbursements to doctors, hospitals, drug companies and device companies. Getting the government to say “no” to these entities would be, well, a miracle:
But to get those savings, the government needs to be willing to say no when doctors, hospitals, drug companies, and device companies refuse to meet their prices, and that means the government needs to be willing to say no to people who want those treatments. If the government can’t do that — if Sanders is going to stick to the spirit of “no more fighting with insurance companies when they fail to pay for charges” — then it won’t be able to control costs. For instance, who decides when the government says no? Will there be a cost-effectiveness council, like Britain’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence? Or will the government basically have to cover every treatment that can be proven beneficial, as is true for Medicare now? What will the appeals process be like?
One question also stands out. How do you physically provide care for all these people who will be able to access all these new avenues pertaining to healthcare? Sanders’ plan might cause hospitals to close, so how would Sanders address these closing hospitals? Additional funding to build these hospitals, especially in rural areas, would be required.
Klein finishes his op-ed with a stinging criticism of both Clinton and Sanders:
A few days ago, I criticized Hillary Clinton for not leveling with the American people. She seemed, I wrote, “scared to tell voters what she really thinks for fear they’ll disagree.” Here, Sanders shows he doesn’t trust voters either. Rather than making the trade-offs of a single-payer plan clear, he’s obscured them further. In answering Clinton’s criticisms, he’s raised real concerns about the plausibility of his own ideas.
This is why the DNC needs to allow for more debates. These are questions Sanders could better his campaign by answering. Democrats like details, and they like making things work.
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