One problem the Democrats hoping to win the 2020 nomination are running into is how to walk the tightrope of their position on healthcare. Many among the crop of noisy socialists who were recently elected ran on a promise of single-payer, Medicare for All, and they’re expecting the eventual nominee to go along with such a plan. This has already tripped up some of the hopefuls, such as Kamala Harris and Cory Booker.
One person who apparently doesn’t have anything to worry about is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She can sit in the background, nod and smile in an understanding fashion while the base calls for such a “solution” on the topic of healthcare. But in private, she has a very different message for the health insurance industry. One of her top aides recently spoke to major insurers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, who would likely implode if private health insurance was basically eliminated in America. The aide told them not to worry because it’s not going to happen. (The Intercept)
Less than a month after Democrats — many of them running on “Medicare for All” — won back control of the House of Representatives in November, the top health policy aide to then-prospective House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Blue Cross Blue Shield executives and assured them that party leadership had strong reservations about single-payer health care and was more focused on lowering drug prices, according to sources familiar with the meeting.
Pelosi adviser Wendell Primus detailed five objections to Medicare for All and said that Democrats would be allies to the insurance industry in the fight against single-payer health care. Primus pitched the insurers on supporting Democrats on efforts to shrink drug prices, specifically by backing a number of measures that the pharmaceutical lobby is opposing…
Democrats, Primus said, are united around the concept of universal coverage, but see strengthening the Affordable Care Act as the means to that end.
Primus actually made a pretty good pitch in explaining the Democrats’ “reservations” about Medicare for all. In fact, when you go through the slides from his presentation, you’d be forgiven if you thought it had been created by a Republican.
His first bullet point was the price. Not only would it be astronomical, but “the monies are needed for other priorities.” That’s pretty much straight out of the GOP playbook.
He then argued that there was too much opposition to the plan in Congress. The key takeaway on that one was that the Medicare for All proposal would “create winners and losers.” Does that sound familiar to anyone? It should, but you don’t hear Democrats talking about it.
The third talking point was something vague about “implementation challenges,” but that could be said of any major government overhaul. All of it seemed to be designed to ease the fears of an industry that donates a lot of money to Democrats.
The point here is, how are all of the presidential contenders and young socialists planning on pushing through a massive healthcare reform package when the Speaker isn’t even on board with it? The message to voters will be that the Democrats are talking about ambitious, sweeping plans, but not only know that they aren’t feasible but have no plans of carrying through with them in any event.
What Pelosi’s aide failed to mention was the impact such a plan would have on the tens or hundreds of millions of working people who like their current, employer-provided healthcare plan just fine. (Though I’m sure pretty much all of us wished the premiums were lower.) What about them? You’re going to take away their plan and put them on a government program? So much for getting to keep your doctor if you like your doctor.