Delaney’s Universal Health Care Plan: Ambitious Without Overpromising

FRIENDSHIP HEIGHTS, MD—In Forbes today, Ben Ritz discusses how Medicare for All is playing in the 2020 race. The article details how Elizabeth Warren’s drop in the polls is due in part to her single-payer health care system proposal, which is impossible to finance, would force Americans to give up their private insurance plans whether they want to or not, and would likely underfund the health care system.

John Delaney remains adamantly opposed to forcing people off their private insurance plans, but he also believes the “public option” plans put forth by the other candidiates do not go far enough. Delaney has a workable plan for universal health care so every American is auto-enrolled in a free government plan unless they opt-out for private insurance.  

“I believe healthcare is a basic right, and my BetterCare plan ensures that every American can have either a free plan from the government or a private plan if that’s what they want. My universal health care plan is fully paid for based on realistic changes to the tax code. There are real solutions to the problems in our healthcare system, but we’re not going to solve them by making impossible promises.”

Delaney’s BetterCare proposal:

  • Create a new public health care plan for all Americans under the age of 65 while preserving traditional Medicare. The new plan would protect the reforms delivered by the Affordable Care Act, including guaranteed coverage of preexisting conditions and essential health benefits, and would make access truly universal. At 65, people would transition into Medicare. Medicaid would be absorbed by the new plan. The highly trusted Medicare provider network could be used for the new plan.   
  • Guarantee universal coverage. Individuals would be automatically enrolled in the new public plan, with no complicated procedures to follow. People would be allowed to opt-out and receive a tax credit to buy their own insurance policy if they choose.
  • Keep private insurance options. Individuals and employers will be able to purchase and negotiate supplemental coverage from private insurers to cover additional health needs. These supplementals could merge into the basic plan to make it easier for the user. 
  • Employers would be encouraged to negotiate group rate supplemental plans that would merge with the basic governmental plan so that employees would be able to keep similar health care plans, many of which are very popular and important to American families.

In order to be sustainable, universal health care needs to be paid for. Delaney’s plan will lower the overall cost of healthcare and put the government on a responsible fiscal path.

Pay-fors (numbers are based on a 10-year projection):

  • The tax subsidy for employer-sponsored insurance costs the government more than $3.7 trillion and depresses wages for working Americans.
  • Allowing the government to negotiate drug prices would stop the transfer of wealth from working families to corporate executives and shareholders of pharmaceutical companies. This would save the government nearly $850 billion.
  • Savings from repurposing the ACA’s tax subsidies would total $760 billion.
  • Current federal Medicaid spending is projected to be more than $4.8 trillion, which this plan would absorb.
  • States are projected to contribute more than $2.9 trillion to Medicaid. States would continue to pay their share for the current Medicaid population and the federal government would cover the cost of expanded coverage.
  • Implement cost sharing for higher-income individuals to fund an increase in reimbursement rates for primary care providers.