KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Campaign Trail Views: Sanders’ Health Plan Raises Questions For Progressives; Clinton’s Embrace Of Planned Parenthood

Health policy opinions and editorials express responses to campaign trail developments.

The New York Times: Health Reform Realities
Health reform is the signature achievement of the Obama presidency. It was the biggest expansion of the social safety net since Medicare was established in the 1960s. ... Obamacare is, however, what engineers would call a kludge: a somewhat awkward, clumsy device with lots of moving parts. ... The question for progressives — a question that is now central to the Democratic primary — is whether these failings mean that they should re-litigate their own biggest political success in almost half a century, and try for something better. My answer, as you might guess, is that they shouldn’t. (Paul Krugman, 1/18)

The Huffington Post: Bernie Sanders Releases Health Plan And It's Even More Ambitious Than You Thought
Bernie Sanders on Sunday released his plan to reform the American health insurance system -- or, more accurately, to reinvent it from scratch. It's a plan to create a single-payer health care system, which means the government would provide everybody with insurance directly. Sanders is calling it "Medicare for All," because Medicare, which provides government-financed insurance to the elderly, is the closest thing to a single-payer system in the U.S. But that term actually understates the ambition of what he is proposing. (Jonathan Cohn, 1/17)

The New York Times: Health Reform Is Hard
My column and Bernie Sanders’ plan crossed in the mail. But the Sanders plan in a way reinforces my point that calls for single-payer in America at this point are basically a distraction. Again, I say this as someone who favors single-payer — but it’s just not going to happen anytime soon. Put it this way: for all the talk about being honest and upfront, even Sanders ended up delivering mostly smoke and mirrors — or as Ezra Klein says, puppies and rainbows. Despite imposing large middle-class taxes, his “gesture toward a future plan”, as Ezra puts it, relies on the assumption of huge cost savings. If you like, it involves a huge magic asterisk. (Paul Krugman, 1/18)

The Chicago Tribune: Bernie Sanders' Lavish 'Medicare For All'
For decades, many liberals have dreamed of a universal health insurance system in which the federal government provides coverage to everyone and pays the cost. Known as "single-payer," it's modeled on programs in Canada and Britain, among others, as well as Medicare. Now Bernie Sanders is making that idea a centerpiece of his presidential campaign. He unveiled an outline for "Medicare for All" on Sunday. And one thing is clear: It has all the qualities of a dream. (1/18)

The Washington Post's Wonkblog: Bernie Sanders’ Health-Care Plan Is The Biggest Attack On The Rich Of This Campaign
Last fall, the Wall Street Journal estimated Bernie Sanders' single-payer health care plan would cost the government a whopping $15 trillion over a decade. Sanders' campaign objected - loudly - over that price tag. On Sunday evening, just before the Democratic presidential debate in South Carolina, Sanders finally released details of his plan, including a headline price tag. It was $14 trillion. Sanders' chief Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, has long claimed his plan would have to raise taxes on the middle class. We now know it would. We also know that, by Sanders' accounting, the plan would actually put more money into the pockets of all but the very richest Americans. (Max Ehrenfreund and Jim Tankersley, 1/17)

The Chicago Tribune: Bernie Sanders' Health Care Fraud
For years, Republicans have gulled their followers with the hope that they could "repeal and replace Obamacare" even with Barack Obama wielding a veto pen. They couldn’t, and pretending otherwise was a cynical political ploy. The same can be said of Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for all” plan, unveiled Sunday just hours before the Democratic debate. Sanders thinks a single-payer government-run system is the only way to provide universal care at an affordable cost. That's not so: Many countries manage to cover everyone by other means. But the more immediate defect with his plan is that it has zero chance of being enacted. (Steve Chapman, 1/18)

The Wall Street Journal: Hillary’s Sisterhood With Planned Parenthood
This campaign [Hillary Clinton] has cast aside her husband’s formula on abortion—“safe, legal and rare”—that she herself ran on in the past. The new Mrs. Clinton has moved to the absolutist position of the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. Today Mrs. Clinton’s formula is safe, legal, unlimited—and federally subsidized. We saw this new Hillary Clinton at a Planned Parenthood rally in New Hampshire this month, where she said she favored “safe and legal abortion” and denounced the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortion. (William McGurn, 1/18)

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