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Seth Moulton, in Democratic 2020 field, stumps for public option over single-payer

Tom Howell Jr. The Washington TimesMay 22, 2019

Rep. Seth Moulton, a Democrat in the crowded 2020 presidential primary, used a hearing on single-payer health care Wednesday to push for a public option instead, saying competition is good and that his experience with the Department of Veterans Affairs makes him hesitant to embrace a socialized system.

He said hes seen positive work at the VA but also the bad and the ugly such as receiving the wrong medication or watching as they struggle to locate his records.

Mr. Moulton, of Massachusetts, says America would be better off with a public plan that competes against private insurance options, arguing its what President Obama wanted before Congress took it out of the 2010 health law and that other industries offer public and private options.

I believe that competition is good. Its American, and should be part of our health care system, he said.

Several of his Democratic primary opponents, notably Sen. Bernard Sanders, want to go further and usher in a single-payer system that replaces private insurance with government insurance cards for everyone.

Others in the 20-plus field are taking a more cautious approach. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden endorsed a public option through a Medicare buy-in, while Sen. Michael Bennett of Colorado said he favors a public option, too, since so many Americans know and love their employer-sponsored care.

Mr. Moulton said the public would be upset if the next president and Congress, say, decided to put FedEx or UPS out of business because they didnt want those companies to compete with the U.S. Postal Service.Just like we have options for delivering packages, we should have options for delivering health care, he said.

Mr. Moulton stumped for a public option at a House Budget Committee hearing on the tradeoffs involved in offering a single-payer system.

Democratic leaders havent fully embraced Medicare for all, but theyre willing to test the waters while they pass bills to shore up Obamacare and expand government funding for health coverage.

Government budget analysts testified Wednesday they dont have the answer to one of the thorniest questions about single-payer how much would the sweeping overhaul would cost.

“We don’t have an estimate yet, in part because it would depend on so many of the design choices that people make, in terms of whos covered and what kinds of services they receive, Mark Hadley, deputy director of the Congressional Budget Office, told the House Budget Committee.

Republicans highlighted the mystery, noting independent analyses say the program would cost over $30 trillion over a 10-year budget window, yet they dont have an official CBO estimate.

My friends across the aisle didnt ask for one I think I know why, said Rep. Steve Womack, Arkansas Republican.

Democrats say spending could go down, as single-payer payments supplant todays fragmented system and the streamlined program reels in administrative costs.

Mr. Hadley said the country could save money if doctors were paid less than what commercial rates provide them today, but there are tradeoffs.

If provider payment rates were set at Medicares rates rather than average commercial rates, then total national health care spending would be lower, he testified. But the amount of care supplied and the quality of that care might diminish.

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