Friday, February 5, 2016

Should progressives like Obamacare?

Paul Krugman's column in the NY Times raises some disturbing questions about how some progressives are trashing Obama Care.

Let me ask you this. I always thought that a goal of efforts to improve health care in America was two-fold: universal health care at a reasonable cost. I always thought that a single payer system would do that. But other countries have achieved those goals in different ways. So do we really care how our country achieves those goals?

I know. I just spoke heresy at you. But do read Krugman's column to trace the reasoning for his conclusion.

Recently Kenneth Thorpe, a respected health policy expert and a longtime supporter of reform, tried to put numbers on the Sanders plan, and concluded that it would cost substantially more than the campaign says. He may or may not be right, although most of the health wonks I know have reached similar conclusions.

But the campaign’s policy director immediately attacked Mr. Thorpe’s integrity: “It’s coming from a gentleman that worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield. It’s exactly what you would expect somebody who worked for B.C.B.S. to come up with.” Oh, boy.

And let’s be clear: This kind of thing can do real harm. The truth is that whomever the Democrats nominate, the general election is mainly going to be a referendum on whether we preserve the real if incomplete progress we’ve made on health, financial reform and the environment. The last thing progressives should be doing is trash-talking that progress and impugning the motives of people who are fundamentally on their side.

To return to our goal, Krugman observes: "The point is to help the uninsured, not to punish or demonize insurance companies."

Given the history of repeated failures by both Democratic and Republican presidents to achieve health care reform, we need to understand that, to paraphrase Joe Biden, Obamacare is a BFD. Should Democrats be trying to win an election by trashing the signature achievement of a sitting Democratic president?

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