Sunday, January 17, 2016

Both Clinton and Sanders' Supporters Need to Get Their Facts Straight on Health Care

From the Clinton side, the remarks recently made by Chelsea Clinton stretched the truth beyond recognition.
Sen. Sanders wants to dismantle Obamacare, dismantle the CHIP program, dismantle Medicare, dismantle private insurance. … I worry that if we give Republicans Democratic permission to do that, we’ll go back to an era — before we had the Affordable Care Act — that will strip millions and millions and millions of people of their health insurance.
Of course, what Chelsea failed to mention is that the reason Sanders would dismantle those health care programs is because he wants to replace them with single payer - not strip millions of people of their health insurance.

But then, in an article claiming to "tell the truth about Bernie's health care stand," Bill Moyers and Michael Kinship do an equally atrocious job of characterizing the other side of this debate. I used to hold Moyers in pretty high esteem, but this kind of thing makes that hard to maintain.
All these years later, Sanders is still fighting the battle for single payer, Medicare-like coverage for all, even as fellow Democrats capitulated to the siren songs of the health and insurance industries. President Obama, himself a one-time advocate of single payer coverage, buckled to the insurance companies and its lobbyists and minions in Congress and agreed to health care legislation (the Affordable Care Act) that would continue to treat healing the sick as a profit center instead of a basic human right.
In a word...bullshit!! President Obama didn't "buckle to the insurance companies." He passed the most sweeping health care reform in our country's history...something that others had failed to do for 100 years. I'm not going to list the stats about the millions of additional people who have health insurance as a result, or how Obamacare has started to bend the cost curve, or how it ended the ability for insurance companies to deny coverage because of "pre-existing conditions," etc. We all know the myriad of ways that legislation is improving the lives of Americans.

What Moyers and Kinship failed to mention under the guise of "telling the truth," is that Sen. Bernie Sanders voted for the Affordable Care Act. You know why he did? Because after proposing a bill for single payer, he could see the writing on the wall. It didn't have even close to the number of votes needed to be a real alternative. Rather than buckling to the insurance companies, President Obama and Democrats (including Bernie Sanders) passed the best possible health care reform that was available to them. Short of doing that, all of those millions who are currently covered would still be without insurance, health care costs would have continued to soar, and people would still be denied insurance due to a pre-existing condition. In other words, many Americans would be less healthy...and some would have died.

People on both sides of this disagreement need to cut out the bullshit. It is an important discussion that we need to have - too important for this kind of demagoguery. Here's a reminder of Barack Obama's warning about this kind of thing.
I firmly believe that whenever we exaggerate or demonize, or oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose. Whenever we dumb down the political debate, we lose. A polarized electorate that is turned off of politics, and easily dismisses both parties because of the nasty, dishonest tone of the debate, works perfectly well for those who seek to chip away at the very idea of government because, in the end, a cynical electorate is a selfish electorate. 
We can do better Democrats! I sure hope the candidates themselves demonstrate that at the debate tonight.


  1. Great post, Nancy, and great concluding point (from POTUS, but thanks for the requote). I'm seeing so much hyperbole from supposed progressive sources lately which exaggerates or flat out misstates the already ridiculous rhetoric from GOP prez candidates that I've had to revisit some arguments I endorsed in the 2001-2009 Bush the Lesser era. Just to check whether I indulged in the same sort of hysteria. (And sometimes, sadly, I think I did.)

    It's no better seeing the same sort of intentional obtuseness and prejudgement used by progressives against other progressives.

    1. I've had to do the same thing in examining my "Bush the Lesser" rhetoric. It is not a fun exercise. But necessary.

  2. ... because nothing says "buckling to the insurance companies" like capping their profits and forcing them to deliver value for premium dollars.

    Moyers has been pretty bad when it comes to reporting on the ACA for years. Here's a transcript that makes me want to smack Moyers in the face to this day:

    I'm talking in particular about how Baucus is explaining why his committee didn't recommend a public option -- because he couldn't find 60 votes -- and Moyers turns that around to, well, read for yourself because his argument is unsummarizably non-sequiturial. (Yes I'm making up words, that's how far removed from intelligent discourse Moyers strayed.)

    It should be pointed out that, when the Democrats did try to tack a public option on later, they ran into exactly the problem Baucus identified: there was no way to get 60 votes with the public option. Fifty-nine votes, maybe, but not 60. And because I like to back this up given how much disinformation abounds:

    Side note, the Left loves to claim that Obama himself killed the public option in February 2009 or so. Strange how the Democrats were still trying to get the public option going through the end of 2009 (per that Lieberman article), so if Obama killed the public option, he sure didn't do a very good job of it.

    But anyway, the record is clear: the Democrats tried to provide a public option, what stopped it was non-Democrats in the Senate, and Moyers apparently thinks that the ability to count to 60 is witchcraft.

  3. Thanks for a does of sanity. Regarding Chelsea Clinton's comment, I read this article and wonder what you think of the argument that is made? I read both your blog and this blog regularly and it's unusual to see disagreement.

  4. I will take exception on the first part. Here is why. When we got ACA, one of the first things that happened with the Medicaid expansion was folding CHIP into it. Those working with children's health who know the minute differences all protested LOUDLY because it really changed a number of things for those children's access. I never fully understood the fine details, but CHIP was restored as part of ACA but a separate program so that coverage, support, and cost were BETTER than ACA's Medicaid offered. The same is true for Medicare v single payer. One would like to think that all coverage would be equal, but it would not be. Sanders said - I read this as a quotation from him - that there would be supplemental insurance. Medicare requires 20% private payment from either your pocket or an insurance plan. In working single payer, that was always the affordability sticking point. Medicare functions almost entirely because of that private payment. To use it for the whole of your life rather than just the last years, at LEAST that amount would have to be private or the cost would skyrocket. So Chelsea was not wrong. And tonight HRC made clear - opening this debate at this time is dangerously irresponsible with the GOP ready to kill it all. Take a look at The People's View ( for a good analysis of it all.