Different Takes: Work Requirements Could Backfire, Harm Health Of Poor; Hyperventilating Conservatives Seek To Nix Growing Appeal Of Medicare For All
Editorial pages look at these health care issues and others.
Congress: SNAP Work Requirements Will Harm Health, Not Improve Nutrition
We see the value of the federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) almost every day. It allows some of our patients to meet a basic human need: to eat. In our medical practices, we are intimately aware of the inextricable link between poor diet and health: arteries hardened, nerves numbed, and cancers caused. This is why we are concerned about farm bills working their way through Congress that threaten the SNAP program. (Andrew Goldstein and Akash Goel, 8/2)
Making Welfare Recipients Work Is A Question Of Values
The wisdom of work requirements in safety-net programs for low-income Americans is being hotly debated in the U.S. Congress, state capitols and policy circles. In the coming weeks, Congress might expand work requirements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. With the authorization of the federal government, some states are currently attempting to impose work obligations on recipients of Medicaid, a program that provides health coverage to low-income households. ...It’s one thing to encourage work. It’s something quite different to tell a hungry person you won’t give him food, or a sick person you won’t give him medical care. But if work requirements are going to have teeth, then that will be necessary. Sending away a hungry person may be reasonable if you think he has the capacity to work. This requires adequate opportunity to use that capacity. (Michael R. Strain, 8/1)
The Washington Post:
Yes, Medicare For All Is Expensive. That’s Not The Point.
Something interesting is happening in the age of Trump: 63 percent of Americans support a national health insurance plan, or Medicare for All, in which the federal government would guarantee health insurance for everyone in the country. Mounting support for Medicare for All has left conservatives hyperventilating. Commercial insurers and their Republican allies are working overtime to convince Congress and the electorate that we simply can’t “afford” Medicare for All. A report by the Mercatus Center’s Charles Blahous, who spearheaded President George W. Bush’s attempt to privatize Social Security, is the latest entry in this fuzzy math sweepstakes. (Diane Archer, 8/1)
The Wall Street Journal:
Even Doubling Taxes Wouldn’t Pay For ‘Medicare For All’
The idea of “Medicare for All” has energized progressives ahead of November’s midterm elections. Across the country, candidates like New York congressional hopeful Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have rallied to the slogan. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced the Medicare for All Act last year and has so far rounded up 16 co-sponsors. Last month, 70 House members formed a Medicare for All Caucus. But there is an enormous gulf between the appealing idea of Medicare for All and the incredibly expensive reality. According to my calculations, paying for every American’s health-care expenses would increase federal spending by $32.6 trillion over the first decade of Medicare for All. Even if Congress were to double what it collects in individual and corporate income taxes, there still wouldn’t be enough money added to the federal coffers to finance the costs of this plan. (Charles Blahous, 8/1)
Cuts Loom In Federal Social Programs
When it comes to the nation’s long-term spending on social programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, Republican leaders are selling the people of the United States either a terrible lie or a terrible truth. They promise to cut the programs, in their proposed budgets and tax-cut legislation, but they seem to do so knowing the cuts cannot be enacted. Yet the finances of our big social programs are increasingly challenged, and something really does need to change. And the danger is that when the money runs short enough, the only option other than benefit cuts will be huge tax increases that would face tremendous opposition. At that point, the benefit cuts the Republicans keep promising in their draconian budgets that seem so unlikely now could come to fruition. (8/1)
Des Moine Register:
A Single-Payer System Will Cause The Health Care Sector To Implode
A single-payer system will cause the health care sector to implode, with profound implications for the United States and the world's economy. Health care is the largest component of the American economy, 17.9 percent of gross domestic product. (Jonathan Yates, 7/31)
The Wall Street Journal:
Short-Term ObamaCare Relief
Democrats are making an election issue of rising health-care costs, so it’s strange that they are now criticizing a new Trump Administration rule that would make cheaper insurance available to more Americans. Maybe they fear people will like it. Health and Human Services on Wednesday finished a rule to expand short-term, limited-duration health insurance. This product has been around for decades for people between jobs or otherwise in need of coverage against the risk of a catastrophic illness. The plans must comply with state laws but aren’t subject to ObamaCare rules on benefits or pricing. Traditionally plans could last a year, but the Obama Administration cut that to three months. The Obama regulators said that 12-month plans might “adversely” affect the Affordable Care Act exchanges. In other words, they wanted to limit alternatives to force everyone into the exchanges. (8/1)
The Washington Post:
Trump Is Trying To Decimate Obamacare. But That Has Proved Hard To Do.
Since Congress ultimately decided to keep Obamacare intact last year, President Trump been trying to dismantle the law himself. In recent weeks, his administration slashed funding to help people sign up for health insurance this fall and halted billions of dollars of payments that help make insuring sicker people viable for insurance companies. On Wednesday, the Trump administration opened up skimpy health plans that don't meet the Affordable Care Act's coverage standards to more Americans. And those are the actions he's taken just this summer. (Amber Phillips, 8/1)