Pete Buttigieg’s Health Care Plan Is the Worst Yet

Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Duane Townsend

New Republic - September 19, 2019

Rejoice, Democratic lovers of Plans, for your presidential field’s second-string wonk candidate Pete Buttigieg has produced details for his health care plan. (To be fair, this is more than can be said for the field’s starting wonk, Elizabeth Warren.) Despite his carefully cultivated image as a master squarer-of-circles—the only man on Earth to have surmised that policies should be based on evidence—his Medicare for All Who Want It plan is deeply stupid. It betrays a terminal case of Democrat Brain; it is a faux-technocratic fantasia soaked in the utterly meaningless jargon of Access and Affordability that won’t even accomplish the things it pretends to want. It is an insult.

These health care plans that rely heavily on the theory of a cure-all “public option” are all designed for the same purpose: Giving candidates space to convincingly claim they would provide universal coverage (or, if not coverage, at least universal “access”) while also preserving the role of private, employer-sponsored insurance. They exist to be an alternative to Medicare for All that successfully convinces voters, the media, and donors that universal health care is possible without all of the scary socialism.

As such, these plans strive to please the people who are currently served reasonably well by our current health care system, or who the Democrats think would be more afraid of change: people with good employer-sponsored plans, or people who are not chronically ill and don’t have much direct experience of how bad the system is. (More importantly, it’s people who are reasonably wealthy, whose votes Democrats are quite concerned about keeping.) Along the way, such plans allow those that propose them to lay claim to better prospects of passing a hostile, GOP-controlled Senate (which is naïve) while not engendering a wider war with any number of deep-pocketed health care industry pressure groups (which is also naïve).

But any plan must attempt to contend with the most appalling and gaping sore on America’s health care system: the 27 million people who lack insurance. Buttigieg’s plan claims it would “automatically” enroll the uninsured. First, “individuals with lower incomes in states that have refused to expand Medicaid will be automatically enrolled in the public option.” Joe Biden’s plan has a similar proposal, to essentially go around state governments that didn’t expand Medicaid by providing a subsidized public option that would mimic expanded Medicaid. (Somewhere in Washington, Samuel Alito’s loins are twitching.) ...
Read full report at New Republic

Comments (2)
No. 1-1

For those of us who were hooked by Buttigieg way back and have taken the time to study his record in SB, I think his plan is exactly what we expected.

M4A is a loser out the gate in the general election. Many of those you would glibly throw off their employer-provided plans are satisfied with what they have now. Many with better jobs have much better coverage now than they would under even the generous M4A that Bernie proposed. How many union members will again back Trump rather than risk their hard-won Cadillac plans?

Beyond that, no one knows what M4A even is. Yes, I know Bernie wrote the damn plan, but Bernie doesn't get to dictate the damn law.

Remember how we couldn't get an ACA with a public option in 2 years even with control of both chambers of Congress? How many people will risk their healthcare on us taking control of the Senate, especially with our best candidates holding out for an impossible nomination? Or do you think McConnell will change stripes and work in favor of the people rather than against them?

Finally, and the one part of M4A I disapprove of, is that it's a bit too socialist. Personally, I'd rather not pay for healthcare for millionaires and billionaires who don't need my help. I imagine I'm not the only one who feels that way.

Here's where Bernie's shoots himself in the foot with his ideology. He wants free healthcare and free education for the "millionaires and billionaires" he's always railing against. I don't think most Americans do.

Pete's plan is Universal Healthcare rather than M4A. He gets the job done, reining in all insurers to a degree, offering whatever M4A turns out to be on the exchanges and covering everyone who is now uninsured. No one faces risk because if M4A sucks we can just ignore it and still get the other benefits of his plan.

This is classic Pete. He gets the job done - helping those are desperate the most but still helping the middle class a lot - but with less risk to everyone else and thus fewer headwinds to his plans.