After Final Debate, Both Candidates Need to Embrace Markets in Medicine


Posted: Oct 24, 2020 12:01 AM

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Safe to say, not too many Americans will change who they are voting for after last night’s debate. Unlike the previous debate, however, the candidates had some interesting things to say about policy. Biden accused Trump of trying to strip away healthcare coverage for more than 20 million Americans by attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA; aka Obamacare). Meanwhile, Trump accused Biden of trying to eliminate private insurance for more than 200 million Americans.

The expensive truth is that both candidates are pedaling big-government policies that will hike prices and decrease patient choice if enacted. Biden and Trump may not see eye to eye on much, but they must agree on expanding choice and competition in the U.S. healthcare system.

Slated to cost an estimated $750 billion in extra spending over the next 10 years, Biden’s healthcare plan would be astoundingly expensive. Biden’s “Obamacare on steroids” approach would significantly increase subsidies for state healthcare exchanges and set up a “public option” to fill in present-day gaps in health coverage. As policy experts pointed out a decade ago during the original debate over Obamacare, it’d be next to impossible to design a public option in a way that wouldn’t drive private insurers out of business. After all, this taxpayer-funded entity could set healthcare premium prices far lower than any company ever could. In the private sector, setting prices below healthcare and administrative costs will result in near-instant bankruptcy.

A government-run organization, though, could simply tap taxpayers for a bailout if their prices prove to be too low. But even this slow-motion “public option” disaster would be a libertarian pipedream compared to what we’d actually get under a Biden administration. The former Vice President doesn’t operate in a policy vacuum, and policy advisors close to him such as running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), are likely to exert significant influence on any Biden agenda. Before dropping out of the race and endorsing Biden, Harris supported a Medicare for All plan that envisioned, “10-year transition plan away from the current healthcare system, at the end of which, “every American will be a part of this new Medicare system. They will get insurance either through the new public Medicare plan or a Medicare plan offered by a private insurer within that system.” This private component is supposed to be modeled after Medicare Advantage, which consists of plans subscribed to by seniors and sponsored (at least partially) by private insurance companies.

The Medicare Advantage program does offer some improvements relative to traditional Medicare plans, since private companies can compete with one another albeit in a strictly regulated framework. But, make no mistake, these “private” Medicare plans are still funded by taxpayers and private sponsors are strictly curtailed in what healthcare options they can offer patients. If Harris gets her way or at least has significant input in “Bidencare,” private

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Biden called Trump ‘a very confused guy’ in debate over healthcare

  • Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden described President Donald Trump as “a very confused guy” when the president falsely claimed Biden supports “socialized medicine” during Thursday’s debate. 
  • “He thinks he’s running against somebody else. He’s running against Joe Biden. I beat all those other people because I disagreed with them,” said the former vice president.
  • Trump repeated the false claim that 180 million Americans stand to lose their private health insurance under Biden’s plan.
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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called President Donald Trump “a very confused guy” when the president falsely claimed Biden supports “socialized medicine” during Thursday night’s presidential debate. 

In a discussion about healthcare, Trump said Biden’s plan to expand the Affordable Care Act by adding a public option would “destroy” Medicare and Social Security, and amount to socialism. The former vice president, who doesn’t support Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All proposal, went on the attack in response. 

“He’s a very confused guy,” Biden said. “He thinks he’s running against somebody else. He’s running against Joe Biden. I beat all those other people because I disagreed with them.” 

The president also falsely claimed that 180 million Americans would lose their private health insurance under Biden’s plan. While Sanders’ Medicare for All proposal would eliminate private insurance, Biden’s plan wouldn’t. 

Biden’s plan, which he called “Bidencare,” would allow Americans under 65 to receive Medicare — a public option on the healthcare exchanges. His plan would also seek to make healthcare plans on the exchanges more affordable by lowering the limit on how much plans can cost and get rid of the cap on insurance subsidies.

Trump didn’t deliver any new details about his long-promised healthcare proposal. 

The president’s domestic policy chief recently told Business Insider that an Obamacare replacement is still “being worked on.”


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The Health 202: ‘Bidencare’ makes its debut at the final presidential debate

“What I’m going to do is pass Obamacare with a public option,” Biden said. It will “become Bidencare.” 

“The Bidencare proposal will, in fact, provide for that affordable health care, lower premiums,” he said a few minutes later.

It was the first time Biden has been heard to use the term publicly – and striking he chose to use it on the debate stage.

For one thing, the battles over Obamacare – and President Clinton’s “Hillarycare” attempt way before that – have well illustrated the political risks of getting one’s name entangled with a health reform effort. 

The Obama administration eventually embraced the term Obamacare, but it was only after realizing that attempts to quash the name invented by Republicans were fruitless.

Doug Andres, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:

Biden has spent far more time berating the Trump administration for its pandemic response and unpopular stance on the 2010 health-care law. 

It’s been a relatively easy task, considering Americans are in the midst of a pandemic that has hit their country harder than nearly every other developed nation. The first thirty minutes of the debate – marked by a return to civility compared with the September debate – did feature an extended back and forth between Trump and Biden over what the national response should look like. 

But later on in the evening, the candidates also tangled over a topic that was vigorously debated during the Democratic primaries but virtually ignored in the general election: how to improve the nation’s porous and insufficient health insurance offerings.

Trump insisted that Biden wanted “socialized medicine.” Biden reminded Trump the primary proves he does not. 

Biden’s former opponents Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) – and even, on occasion, Biden’s now-running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) – blasted Biden for supporting the system of private health insurance which is still responsible for covering more than half of all Americans.

Biden positioned himself as a moderate on the issue, and stuck fast to it, refusing to back dramatic and sweeping proposals to replace private coverage with a government-run “Medicare-for-all” plan for all Americans. Instead he supports an incremental approach of adding a public option to the marketplaces, which people could choose to purchase.

That didn’t stop the president from trying cast his plan as socialist and falsely claiming it would strip 180 million Americans of their employer-sponsored coverage. “He wants socialized medicine,” Trump said. “Bernie Sanders wants it. The Democrats want it. You’re going to have socialized medicine.”

“He’s very confused,” Biden shot back. “He thinks he’s running against somebody else. I beat all those other people because I disagreed with them.”

“The idea that I want to eliminate private insurance – the reason why I had such a fight with 20 candidates for the nomination – was I support private insurance,” Biden added.

A public option is just one of several proposals Biden’s campaign has laid out on health policy. They include increasing the ACA’s marketplace subsidies, allowing

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The final 2020 presidential election debate

Donald Trump, Joe Biden are posing for a picture

© Getty Images

Donald Trump’s more sedate debate performance on Thursday night was a departure in tone from his chaotic performance weeks ago, but the President continued to cast his warped view of the world as truth.

In reality, Trump’s performance was riddled with false claims, on topics ranging from the coronavirus to foreign policy to immigration. And while former Vice President Joe Biden made some missteps and stretched the truth at times, his comments essentially hewed to the truth.

Trump came into the debate needing to clean up from his first performance and he clearly listened to his advisers who urged him to turn down the heat and stop his incessant interruptions. But the President relied heavily on the same rhetoric that fills his raucous rallies and Twitter feed, just set at a lower volume. His lies ranged from the political, like when he falsely claimed the coronavirus was “going away” or that a vaccine to end the pandemic was ready, to the personal, like when he falsely said Biden has “houses all over the place” or lied about Biden receiving millions of dollars from Russia. And his lies were clearly aimed at politically important issues, like health care, the economy and coronavirus, three topics that voters say are critical to them as they head to the ballot box.

Biden’s misstatements were more on the margins, like when he falsely claimed that he never said he opposed fracking, understated the number of people for whom Trump has granted clemency and made a misleading claim about health care coverage losses under Obamacare.

CNN’s team watched the second and final presidential debate. Here are the facts.


Trump: Coronavirus is ‘going away’

Trump claimed the virus is going away. “We’re rounding the corner. It’s going away,” Trump said.

Facts First: This is false. The US coronavirus situation — as measured by newly confirmed cases, hospitalizations and the test positivity rate — is getting worse, not better. There is no basis for his vague claim that we are “rounding the corner.”

Trump has baselessly claimed for eight months that the virus would disappear or was currently disappearing.

Holmes Lybrand

Biden: An additional 200,000 Americans will die from Covid-19 by the end of the year

Biden said: “The expectation is we’ll have another 200,000 Americans dead the time between now and the end of the year.”

Facts First: This needs context.

One study published in October in the medical journal JAMA showed that there were more than 225,000 excess deaths in a five-month period at the start of the year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, compared to past years. (Excess deaths are the number of deaths beyond what historic numbers of deaths have been in a similar time period.) The study then predicted that the total number of excess deaths would likely be greater than 400,000. But as of Thursday evening, 223,000 Americans have lost their lives to Covid-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

These are merely

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COVID-19 safety precautions at the presidential debate are ‘adequate,’ but may leave some in danger, experts say

Clear dividers are seen on stage as preparations are made for the final presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Clear dividers are seen onstage as preparations are made for the final presidential debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will face off in the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville on Thursday night, just weeks after the president contracted and recovered from COVID-19. Experts say the precautions that have been taken to prevent the spread of the virus are a step in the right direction, but could still leave some of the estimated 200 attendees at risk.

The Commission on Presidential Debates, which sponsors the event, has reportedly put several protective measures in place, including a mask mandate for attendees, pre-testing ahead of the event and social distancing in the audience. Biden has reportedly already tested negative for the virus, and in an email from Yahoo Life asking about President Trump’s status, a spokesperson for his campaign replied that “the President will be cleared by the White House Medical Unit.” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters on Thursday the president was tested for COVID-19 on his flight to Nashville and was negative.

The two candidates will be separated by plexiglass dividers, and the Nashville Public Health Department is reportedly also installing separate HVAC systems near each candidate to increase airflow. But in a press conference Thursday morning, Nashville Mayor John Cooper warned that a “surge” in cases was occurring in the city, now averaging 175 new infections a day. “Health experts have warned that we need to double down on masks and social distancing to stop this surge in its tracks,” Cooper said.

Nashville experienced a drop in daily COVID-19 cases in September, but city officials have reported a rapid rise in the last weeks — including 249 cases in the past 24 hours alone. In total, Davidson County, where Nashville is located, has 30,115 cases and 328 deaths since the pandemic began, according to Thursday data from the Tennessee Department of Health.

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has highlighted the importance of ventilation, Dr. Saskia Popescu, an infection prevention specialist at George Mason University, says that the HVAC systems aren’t necessarily as useful as they seem. “I’m assuming they’re saying that they’re using separate air handling units for the candidates … but I’m not sure how that would be a panacea,” she tells Yahoo Life. “Increasing air exchanges and filtration is the goal.”

Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, thinks the precautions taken to protect Trump and Biden are slightly over the top. “I think that they’re just kind of going above and beyond for most of this,” Adalja tells Yahoo Life. “I don’t think that is going to make much of a difference in transmission risk, especially since President Trump is not really a person who can be infected with the virus.” The audience precautions, however, are sufficient.

The fact

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