Cobb Speaks About Costs, Benefits of Single-Payer System

“The driving point is health care for all,” she said. “This is core, this is central, to why I’m running.”

Tedra L. Cobb, Democratic candidate for the 21st Congressional District, has focused on health care as a central part of her campaign since entering the race.

“The driving point is health care for all,” she said. “This is core, this is central, to why I’m running.”

Ms. Cobb has been open to different solutions, including a Medicare for All program or a proposal that lowers the age for Medicare to 50 and expands the Affordable Care Act.

Last week, Medicare for All, or at least the proposal put forward by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., made headlines after a Libertarian think tank, the Mercatus Center, published an analysis of the plan saying it would cost the government $32.6 trillion more over 10 years. The same analysis said the plan would also lower overall U.S. spending on health care by $2 trillion over the same period. Taxes would go up while premiums were eliminated and coverage would expand while costs for care would drop.

Ms. Cobb said that discussing the plan based on the price tag alone left out important context.

“They skewed it to look expensive,” she said. “It’s important to have context. The Mercatus Institute is going to say this is terrible, this is horrible, without context.”

In 2015, she said, the country as a whole spent $3.2 trillion while leaving many people uninsured.

“It has been $3.2 trillion and 30 million people weren’t covered,” she said. “We’d be paying what we’re paying now and everyone would be covered.”

Ms. Cobb said that between Medicare and Medicaid, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Affordable Care Act, the federal government already spends $1.38 trillion annually on health care. Expanding to a single payer system could also reduce the cost per person for care.

“That ($3.2 trillion is) twice what Canada spent per person,” Ms. Cobb said. “The point here is when everyone is covered we save money.”

Among other factors, the increase in preventive care and the ability to negotiate drug prices would reduce the expenditure overall, she said. Not only would it be cheaper, according to Ms. Cobb, but it would help hospitals and health care workers and support economic development.

The Sanders plan assumes that all health services would be reimbursed at Medicare rates, which are often lower than private insurers’ rates, and using this rate is necessary for the $2 trillion reduction.

Ms. Cobb did not have a clear answer on how that lower reimbursement rate might directly affect health care providers, but she did point to advantages in reduced paperwork from insurers and the possibility of paying for overall health outcomes, not specific services, in the future.

Ultimately, though, the savings of the plan are not as important to Ms. Cobb as the outcome of the plan — full coverage.

“We’re talking about economics; we’re not talking about human beings,” she said.

Ms. Cobb also said she had not seen a comparison of the Medicare for All plan with an Affordable Care Act expansion.

“I haven’t seen it, and I think this is the important thing,” she said.

If Congress were truly looking to fix health care, she said, comparisons like that would be investigated and studied, hearings would be held, and solutions could be compared. Ms. Cobb said her opponent, U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, had been part of this problem.

“This Congress has not solved the health care problem. It has been a Congress of no,” she said.

Ms. Cobb also spoke on the New York Health Act, a bill before the state Senate to create a single payer system for New York that was recently analyzed by the Rand Corp. The results also showed a savings in overall cost with potentially a sharp increase in taxes.

“It’s a plan to explore a plan,” Ms. Cobb said of the bill. “If the Senate says ‘yes, we’ll pursue it,’ they analyze it, they hold hearings — that’s how government should work.”

For Ms. Cobb, it is the end result, not the particular bill, that is important.

“Everyone must have health care,” she said. “It’s good for us economically, it’s good for us as human beings, it’s good for us in this region.”

From an article originally published in the Watertown Daily Times, by Abraham Kenmore, dated August 11, 2018.

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