The inadequate, shoddy debate over health care reform

By John Geyman, M.D.
The Hill, November 30, 2016

What does the recent election cycle portend for health care in America? Not good, if we go by the recent debate over further reform of our dysfunctional system. The non-debate has been shallow, barely covered by the mainstream media, and uninformative at this important juncture in deciding where to go next in U.S. health care.

In reality, we have three basic alternatives in how we finance health care: (1) continuation of the Affordable Care Act with changes as needed; (2) repeal of the ACA and replacement by a GOP “plan”; and (3) enactment of a single-payer Medicare-for-All system of national health insurance (NHI). But you would never know that from the debate, which is sketchy on the first two options and remains silent on the third.

Now that “conservatives” run the government in a new Trump administration, what can we anticipate? We are already seeing alarming evidence of racism, misogyny, bigotry, and authoritarianism at the highest levels of appointments in the White House and among some members of Congress.

In health care, we can expect efforts to dismantle the ACA, leaving more millions uninsured; to cut Medicaid through block grants to states; and to further the privatization of Medicare and Medicaid. We can also expect the easing of regulations on – and the protection of profits of – the big insurers, drug companies and other corporate stakeholders in our medical-industrial complex.

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