Democrats Should Campaign for Dutch-Style Health Reforms

Dutch girls cycling in Amsterdam, June 13, 2014
Dutch girls cycling in Amsterdam, June 13, 2014 (Shirley de Jong)

The other day, I explained that the reason Americans can’t get a European-style health-care system is not opposition from insurance companies but the fears of 155 million Americans who currently get health insurance through their employers. They worry that a single-payer system, like Britain’s, would mean higher taxes and lower-quality care.

Such fears — largely unfounded — would undoubtedly be amplified by drug companies, health providers and insurance companies if the Democrats campaigned for “Medicare for all”.

So instead of having an abstract, and probably pointless, debate about which health-care system is superior, why not look at what advocates of single-payer hope to achieve and see if this can’t be done without eliminating private insurance? Read more

Why Americans Can’t Have European-Style Health Care

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders takes part in a protest in Washington DC, November 17, 2016
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders takes part in a protest in Washington DC, November 17, 2016 (Lorie Shaull)

Sixteen Democratic senators, led by the 2016 presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, have called for reforms that would make all Americans eligible for public health care.

Such a system — the Americans call it “single-payer” — would be uncontroversial in Europe, where most countries guarantee health care to their citizens.

But it seems impossible to get done in America. Why? Read more

Repression Is the Wrong Approach to America’s Opioid Epidemic

American president Donald Trump is seen in Washington DC, January 20
American president Donald Trump is seen in Washington DC, January 20 (DoD/Marianique Santos)

One of the few silver linings to last year’s presidential election in the United States was that candidates from both major parties recognized that opioid addiction should be treated as a public-health, rather than a law-enforcement, problem.

Which makes it all the more disheartening that Donald Trump is taking exactly the wrong approach to this crisis.

Politico reports that the new president believes in a “tough law-and-order approach” to arrest the rise in drug overdose deaths.

142 Americans die from opioid abuse every day. That is more than die in car accidents or from guns.

The crisis is concentrated in postindustrial states like Kentucky and West Virginia: the heart of Trumpland. Read more

Republican Attempt to Repeal Obamacare Turns into Farce

View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC in the early morning, January 15
View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC in the early morning, January 15 (DoD/William Lockwood)

Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare have descended into farce.

Politico reports that Senate Republicans don’t even want their latest bill — which would repeal the 2010 health reforms without replacing them — to become law.

“The substance of this is not what’s relevant,” said Bob Corker of Tennessee. “This a pathway to conference. That’s the only purpose in this.”

But there is no guarantee the House of Representatives will agree to a conference, which is not designed to write laws to begin with. It’s a process to iron out differences between similar bills passed by both chambers.

The reason Senate Republicans must resort to this is that they haven’t been able to unify their own behind a health-care bill, let alone attract Democratic support. Read more

Senate Obamacare Replacement Isn’t Better Than House Version

A woman makes a photo of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, January 18
A woman makes a photo of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, January 18 (Lorie Shaull)

After weeks of cloak and dagger, Senate Republicans have finally unveiled their plan to replace Obamacare and now we know why they worked on it in secret.

When Republicans in the House released their plan in March, I wrote here that they had managed to unite health-care commentators from the left and the right in consternation. Read more

Republican Obamacare Replacement Does All the Wrong Things

Republican House speaker Paul Ryan meets with religious leaders in Washington DC, March 2, 2016
Republican House speaker Paul Ryan meets with religious leaders in Washington DC, March 2, 2016 (Bread for the World)

It’s hard to unite health-care commentators from the left and the right, but that’s what House Republicans have done with their plan to replace Obamacare.

The left is appalled that Republicans would make health care cheaper for Americans who are well-off and leave those who currently depend on Obamacare in the cold.

The right is disappointed that the plan only eliminates the individual mandate but keeps other parts of Obamacare in place, including the principle of federal subsidies and its insurance plan requirements. Read more

Absence of Obamacare Replacement Exposes Republican Deception

President Donald Trump, House speaker Paul Ryan and Vice President Mike Pence of the United States meet at the Capitol in Washington DC, November 13, 2016
President Donald Trump, House speaker Paul Ryan and Vice President Mike Pence of the United States meet at the Capitol in Washington DC, November 13, 2016 (Facebook/Speaker Paul Ryan)

Something must be seriously wrong if I’m on the same side as Paul Krugman.

The economist writes in The New York Times that it isn’t just Donald Trump who is incompetent but his entire political party that has been faking it for years.

Its leaders’ rhetoric was empty; they have no idea how to turn their slogans into actual legislation, because they’ve never bothered to understand how anything important works.

That last bit is ungenerous. The reality is that Republicans have put politics over policy, but Krugman — unfortunately — isn’t altogether wrong. Read more