The years since the 2010 Affordable Care Act’s passage have driven home a clear message: Reforming health care is a monumental undertaking even when the policy prescriptions are relatively modest.

As the landmark law’s 10th anniversary approaches, it’s in legal peril a third time as another battle over its constitutionality likely heads toward the U.S. Supreme Court.

The learning curve has been steep. Rolling out the technology required to implement the law, such as for online marketplaces, has been rocky.

What’s striking about these challenges is that they hobbled a law that built on the existing system of private health insurance and Medicaid, a popular public program in place since the mid-1960s. The ACA was not a radical change despite legions of critics saying otherwise. If it’s been this hard to implement the law’s modest reforms, imagine how daunting it would be to put a plan in place that would blow up the current health care system — the single-payer or “Medicare for All” proposals pushed most prominently by Democratic presidential contenders Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

Warren and Sanders would make the federal government the nation’s health insurer, which it already is for Americans 65 and older who depend on Medicare. Those who are not senior citizens would enroll in the program, or something like it, instead of buying private health insurance on their own or getting it through an employer.

The debate intensified this week when Warren released an outline of her plan’s estimated costs, how it would work and how it could be paid for. The plan, written by two health care heavyweights, is a serious effort but an alarming read. Such a shift could reduce the nation’s overall health expenditures but require $20.5 trillion in new federal spending over 10 years. That figure is far lower than other experts, even those from a left-leaning think tank, have calculated. The Warren plan would pick political battles on multiple fronts. Those savings she intends to wring out of the system? The health care industry considers those savings to be “revenue.” These special interests are among the nation’s most powerful lobbies — especially insurers, who face an existential threat.

No political or economic arguments are likely to deter Medicare for All advocates, however. They are a passionate group and their goal — health care for all — is just. But this not the only way forward, nor should it be. Less disruptive steps that build on the ACA are better options that can garner broad support. Steady progress isn’t a revolution, but it can add up to revolutionary improvement. The presidential debate will be well-served if Warren’s competitors counter this fantasy plan with a dose of reality.

— Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

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(4) comments

simon1dog

Where is Beto O'Rourke when the Democrats need him?

deaton

I heard he “slithered” back to El Paso, he needed to film another episode in his reality show with more dental hygiene and hair cut videos, available on YouTube! [thumbup][beam] Deaton

JVW

Simon1. He went back to his trust fund. 😉.

HwyRovr

Jealous?

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