Surprisingly, both Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) agree the U.S. health system is broken but they largely disagree on the methods to fix it. On Tuesday, the two senators voiced their opinions on the issue and brought possible fixes in a CNN debate.
Sen. Cruz’s quick fix is a repeal of President Obama signature healthcare law, Obamacare. He said that the unfortunate cocktail of taxpayer subsidies and federal mandates benefits health insurers the most but hurts patients. Cruz thinks that people now have fewer choices while they struggle with higher premiums. As a result, fewer healthy people choose to enroll in the program.
Ted, let’s work together for a Medicare-for-all, single payer insurer system,
Sen. Sanders told Cruz during the CNN’s town-hall style debate Tuesday.
However, Cruz does not think this is a good idea. Just like the GOP, he thinks replacing the heavy federal mandates with a customer-friendly solution based on market forces would lure in more people to the system.
In response to Sanders’ invitation, Cruz said more choices and customer empowerment along with lower prices, premiums, and deductibles is the right answer. Cruz added that he would like to take on the drug industry with Sen. Sanders. However, he said that the government should not be the one to negotiate drug prices as his progressive counterpart wants. The Texan believes a faster regulatory process would boost competition by itself.
Both Senators said Americans should be allowed to buy cheaper medications from Canada. It is worth noting that the Republican was born there while his Democratic counterpart lives about 50 miles from the U.S.-Canadian border.
The Democratic party thinks it is better to fix Obamacare instead of repealing it. The likely fix, in their view, is more government involvement on the exchanges to spur competition and larger subsidies.
Sen. Sanders admitted the law is not perfect but he underlined that several polls show most Americans don’t want the law gone. He also thinks a government-run system is the best solution.
Congressional Republicans, on the other hand, dismissed these fixes even though they still scramble on how to repeal the law without crumbling the entire healthcare system. They are now working on a viable replacement plan, which could take a year.
House speaker Paul Ryan said earlier this week that the repeal could become reality by the end of the year. President Donald Trump however wants the repeal faster to fulfil his campaign promise.
Cruz said Tuesday Congress should take swift action to undo the health law but once Obamacare is gone the work is not done. He also thinks the GOP plan for the government to encourage health savings accounts is a good replacement. Other suggestions include the possibility of cross-state purchases of health insurance.
Cruz said a European-inspired system which is managed and paid for by the government isn’t a viable solution because it leads to long wait lines and restricted access to healthcare.
Other solutions would include charging sicker or older patients three time more than younger patients. Republicans also want to undo the mandate for companies with more than 50 workers to pay for health coverage or face fines.
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