Before this week, you might not have heard of Rep. John Delaney, a moderate Democrat from Maryland who is running for President. In fact, he was technically the first Democrat to run for President (he announced just 7 months after the inauguration), but that doesn’t seem to be doing him much good.
If you’ve heard of him recently, it’s probably because, over the weekend, he went to the California Democratic convention, said Medicare for All is “not good policy, nor is it good politics,” and claimed it would “kick 150 million Americans off their healthcare.”
He then proceeded to be loudly booed non-stop for a minute and a half.
Apparently, the Delaney campaign has been busy traveling the country and talking to voters, but it doesn’t seem like he’s done much listening, because he’s come to a profoundly wrong conclusion.
It’s no secret that healthcare is consistently found to be the leading issue among voters in recent election cycles, and it’s easy to see why.
Everyone knows someone who’s been devastated by the American healthcare system, and most of us have faced the strain of it ourselves. Premiums and deductibles never stop rising, out of pocket costs keep increasing, it’s eating up larger portions of our wages, it’s outgrowing inflation and hurting the bottom line for employers, and it’s forcing patients to ration care, leading to worse health outcomes, and even death.
Even a comfortable middle-class family lives under the threat of a surprise medical bill driving them to bankruptcy. Or maybe they worry that when they need the insurance they’ve been paying into their whole lives to cover a medical procedure, they’ll end up getting their claim denied instead.
It is difficult to imagine a less efficient and more expensive system.
That’s a big part of the reason why 70% of Americans support Medicare for All, including 85% of Democrats who John Delaney is currently trying to woo, and 52% of Republicans.
Not a lot of issues poll at 70% approval. Sounds like pretty good politics to me.
Now let’s talk policy. Mr. Delaney either doesn’t know what an effective policy tool Medicare for All will be, or he’s unwilling to face the facts. Either way, not a great look for a Presidential hopeful.
Let’s start with the obvious: The current, multi-payer system is economically unsustainable.
I assume that when the Congressman claimed that 150 million people would be kicked off their insurance, he was referring to those of us who get our insurance through the workplace. However, the value of employer-sponsored insurance has been completely deteriorating.
The same costs that are straining families and patients are also a disaster for small and mid-sized businesses and workers.
Over the past 10 years, premiums in the employer-market have gone up 55%, and an employer-sponsored family plan now costs an average of 19,616 a year per employee. Even though these premiums costs are rising, the plans are actually getting worse. Worker deductibles have gone up 212% in the last decade, far outpacing inflation and wage growth.
Because the plans are getting more expensive and covering less, people with insurance through their workplace are the largest driver of the growing “underinsured” rate.
So to review: money that could be going to job creation, new products or marketplaces, raising wages, or keeping competitive internationally is going to health insurance companies, who are serving as nothing more than bloated and inefficient middle-men, and aren’t providing adequate coverage.
Medicare for all would finance healthcare with a lower cost, manageable, and predictable tax rate that would ensure every single person in this country had comprehensive coverage without financial barriers.
The impact on economic growth goes beyond the hundreds of millions we would save in healthcare spending every year. That’s why, last month, over 200 economists signed on to a letter endorsing Medicare for All on the basis that it was a “Win-Win.” A more healthy populace is a more productive populous. It’s that simple.
I’m not sure what’s motivating Delaney to shun good policy and good politics, but I am sure I don’t trust the political instinct of a man polling near .05%. I just hope all the other candidates heard the boos loud and clear.
Dylan Dusseault is the Executive Director of Business Initiative for Health Policy.