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Dr. Krugman: Obama can't deliver universal healthcare

Health Care 2008

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#1 Palisades

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 12:13 PM

From the liberal's sweetheart economist Dr. Krugman:

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[The] big difference is mandates: the Clinton plan requires that everyone have insurance; the Obama plan doesn’t.


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Jonathan Gruber of M.I.T., one of America’s leading health care economists,...finds that a plan without mandates, broadly resembling the Obama plan, would cover 23 million of those currently uninsured, at a taxpayer cost of $102 billion per year.
Note: those cost estimates are for covering the current number of uninsured Americans, and health care costs per American are likely to continue increasing for reasons explained by Dr. Wheelan and others.

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An otherwise identical plan with mandates would cover 45 million of the uninsured — essentially everyone — at a taxpayer cost of $124 billion. Over all, the Obama-type plan would cost $4,400 per newly insured person, the Clinton-type plan only $2,700.

That doesn’t look like a trivial difference to me. One plan achieves more or less universal coverage; the other, although it costs more than 80 percent as much, covers only about half of those currently uninsured.

As with any economic analysis, Mr. Gruber’s results are only as good as his model. But they’re consistent with the results of other analyses, such as a 2003 study, commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, that compared health reform plans and found that mandates made a big difference both to success in covering the uninsured and to cost-effectiveness.

And that’s why many health care experts like Mr. Gruber strongly support mandates.

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[The] Obama campaign has demonized the idea of mandates — most recently in a scare-tactics mailer sent to voters that bears a striking resemblance to the “Harry and Louise” ads run by the insurance lobby in 1993, ads that helped undermine our last chance at getting universal health care.

If Mr. Obama gets to the White House and tries to achieve universal coverage, he’ll find that it can’t be done without mandates — but if he tries to institute mandates, the enemies of reform will use his own words against him.

If you combine the economic analysis with these political realities, here’s what I think it says: If Mrs. Clinton gets the Democratic nomination, there is some chance — nobody knows how big — that we’ll get universal health care in the next administration. If Mr. Obama gets the nomination, it just won’t happen.

Edited by An Affirming Flame, 06 April 2008 - 12:15 PM.

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#2 QueenTiye

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 12:16 PM

This particular "liberal sweetheart" happens to be a Clinton supporter (or, I should say - seems to be, in much the same way people keep claiming that the media is "in the tank" for Obama...  not this one.  This one is "in the tank" for Clinton.).

That said - I'm not really convinced that Obama's plan universally covers everyone - if by universal we mean "everyone must have it."  If by universal we mean "everyone CAN have it" then that's also a debatable point, but one which I feel is a more worthy goal, given American sensibilities.

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#3 cade

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 02:13 PM

^Yeah, Krugman has lost a lot of credibility with his hit pieces on Obama.

I think the differences between Clinton and Obama have been vastly overblown. For one, mandates are highly unlikely to pass. Even Obama's plan is unlikely to pass. Both are going to have to compromise. Clinton failed in '93 because she refused to compromise, and by berating Obama over this relatively minor issue of mandates, I'm skeptical that she'll be willing to compromise on mandates when dealing with Congress. Mandates are also something I think the Republicans would use effectively against Clinton in the fall. People don't like the idea of being forced to buy health insurance. imo, it's a distraction that clouds the issue and will delay progress. Both plans from Clinton and Obama take major steps toward universal coverage (about 95%), but neither is universal. Mandates or no, not everyone is going to buy health insurance, as Massachussetts has shown. The candidate proposing real universal health care was Kucinich.

#4 G1223

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 03:41 PM

It also failed because most americans are loath to place so much power at the hands of the government.
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