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Healthcare

KamalaCare — If You Can Fool 'Em Once…

Like Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown, Democrats have a plan.

Michael Swartz · Aug. 2, 2019

A decade ago, America was promised that its health care system would vastly improve if we only elected Barack Obama and embraced his ideas. “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” he vowed, and voters trained to blame their insurance companies for a made-up health care “crisis” fell for that infernal lie. Now, with Obama’s former vice president leading the pack for the 2020 Democrat presidential nomination, many of Joe Biden’s competitors are claiming that the Affordable Care Act he helped enact and called a “big f—kin’ deal” isn’t doing enough to alleviate the problems of cost and coverage.

To that end, California Senator Kamala Harris — who hasn’t been afraid to mix it up with Biden in the Democrat debates — is sure she has the winning compromise between the status quo and the rapid push for a single-payer system.

As Harris wrote this week, “When we pass my plan, all Americans will immediately have the ability to buy into Medicare. This is similar to the immediate, introductory buy-in provided in Senator [Bernie] Sanders’ Medicare for All bill. Right away, it will lower costs and give us a baseline plan as we transition to Medicare for All.”

Continued Harris, “Second, we will set up an expanded Medicare system, with a 10-year phase-in period. During this transition, we will automatically enroll newborns and the uninsured into this new and improved Medicare system, give all doctors time to get into the system, and provide a commonsense path for employers, employees, the underinsured, and others on federally-designated programs, such as Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act exchanges, to transition. This will expand the number of insured Americans and create a new viable public system that guarantees universal coverage at a lower cost. Expanding the transition window will also lower the overall cost of the program.”

Having a 10-year transition period is interesting, particularly because it assumes a two-term presidency or a successor willing to follow through on her plan. But the question remains whether lengthening the transition will save money or not. Needless to say, analysts are dubious about that prospect. “Extending the single-payer transition period to ten years,” explains health care expert Christopher Jacobs in The Federalist, “will keep most of the program’s costs ‘off the books’ and hidden from the public until after her proposal makes it on to the statute books.”

Weren’t we already told to pass some expansive health care proposal so we could see what was in it?

Harris asserts that private insurance will have a role in her plan — provided companies “play by our rules,” though “if not, they have to get out.” While supporters are optimistic that insurers will embrace the idea, it’s a safe bet that those already in the game will do their level best to have the rules written to benefit them at the expense of possible competition. It may, however, become a case of who becomes the last easy meal for the crocodile. After all, what private company can compete with the ultra-deep pockets of the federal government? National Review contributor Pradheep Shanker called Harris’s proposal a “public option on steroids.”

However, it’s also an evolution of sorts from her original position farther to the left. Back in January, the shape-shifting Harris was in favor of eliminating insurance companies. Apparently, though, her polling found tepid support for a single-payer “Medicare for All” program and caused her to flip-flop on the issue. Yet to borrow another infamous Medicare-related phrase, there’s no doubt that Harris and her cohorts would like private insurance to “wither on the vine.” ObamaCare was just the start of that process, not an ending.

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