Hillary Won the Nomination, But Bernie Won On Healthcare

Many pundits speculated that Hillary Clinton would devote a significant portion of her Democratic Convention speech to health care. But she dedicated just one sentence to the topic.

The reason? Earlier in the week, Bernie Sanders had already laid out her campaign’s position.

In exchange for her formal rival’s endorsement, Clinton fully embraced his vision for a single-payer system. The only difference is that Clinton says she’ll do it gradually rather than immediately after taking office.

“Hillary Clinton wants to see that all Americans have the right to choose a public option in their healthcare exchange,” Sanders said. “She believes that anyone 55 years or older should be able to opt in to Medicare.” And, he said, Clinton now wants “a major expansion of community health centers.”

Indeed, Sanders described this year’s party platform as, “
by far, the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party.”

This position is in sharp contrast to the view Clinton was articulating at the start of her campaign. All she promised then was to defend Obamacare, tinkering around the edges as needed to “improve it.”

As her primary battle with Sanders dragged on, however, Clinton kept moving left. By April, she’d added tepid support for a “
public option” — a government-run insurance plan designed to compete against private insurers on the exchanges — saying that she’d work with governors interested in the idea. Just before the convention, she announced her full-throttled support for the idea.

In May, she added the Medicare buy-in option that some dubbed “Medicare for More.” To seal the endorsement deal with Sanders in July, she said she would double spending on federal community health centers to “dramatically expand access to millions more people.”
What do all these proposals have in common? Every one of them is designed to aggressively push the country toward a single-payer system — “
Medicare for All.” That’s not mere conjecture; that’s what proponents of these reforms have said.

The public option, for example, was initially going to be a part of Obamacare. But it was removed when the Senate began debate as leading Democrats believed they would not be able to pass the bill with the public option included. And while most Democrats were cagey about why they supported it, then-Rep. Barney Frank gave the game away, telling a reporter in August 2009 that: “The best way we are going to get to single payer, the only way, is to have a public option to demonstrate its strength and its power.”

The Medicare buy-in option, which would let anyone over age 55 join Medicare, “has been embraced by many advocates of single-payer health care as a way to move more Americans into the existing government system” according to a New York Times NYT -0.46% report.

Clinton’s single-payer strategy doesn’t stop there. She also promises to lean on the 19 holdout states to President Obama’s Medicaid expansion, further extending the federal reach in the healthcare market.

In the Obamacare exchanges, meanwhile, competition has steadily deteriorated. Private insurers have been backing out because their premiums don’t come close to equaling the claims they have to pay. The non-profit co-ops Obamacare created for the exchanges are also failing. Already, 16 of the 23 Obamacare co-ops have shutdown — and of the seven that remain, six are financially unstable.

Clinton’s plan to “fix” the exchanges all but guarantees that the remaining private insurers exit. But that is exactly the goal: the only option left will be the federal government.

Another key pathway to a government-run system is to keep piling on costly federal mandates. On top of existing Obamacare mandates, Clinton would require policies on the exchanges to provide three free sick visits, block them from charging more for out-of-network providers for emergency procedures, and cap monthly out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs.

At the same time, she says she’ll “make sure” that federal bureaucrats can block “unreasonable health insurance premiums rate increases.”

Since insurers are already losing vast sums on their Obamacare business, these “reforms” will leave Bernie’s “public option” as the only option.

During the Obamacare debate seven years ago, some critics argued that the law was designed to fail, thus paving the way to single-payer; liberals could say they looked for solutions from the private sector, but it just didn’t work. Democrats and the press pilloried and ridiculed critics making such claims.

Now, whether by design or ineptitude, Obamacare is failing. Insurance companies are abandoning exchanges across the country, leaving many with only one or two insurers. In Minnesota, even Blue Cross Blue Shield has said it’s dropping out of the individual market — because it can’t afford to sell Obamacare plans.

And guess what? Democrats are now using these failures as an excuse to push more aggressively for a single-payer replacement. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

Scroll to Top