Next Things First


What “Joe the Plumber” Means for Health Care by Rob Coppedge
October 15, 2008, 9:11 pm
Filed under: health policy, medicaid/medicare | Tags: ,

Hard to believe that was the last debate. We are actually going to get to vote and close out the never ending campaign. And after nearly two years of talking, what do we actually know about what would, could or might happen to our health care system under a new Administration?

Listening to the debate tonight, it became clear to me that we don’t know much – primarily because the candidates themselves aren’t sure what they’ll have the money to do. As Dick Morris said before the debate last week in Nashville, the next President will be like a trustee in bankruptcy court. As the waves of financial crises (subprime to credit cards to the fall out from buy out deals) wash over the system, the next President will have the political will but no financial wherewithal to do what they (and their supporters) would like.

But, as McCain invokes plumbers and Obama follows suit, one thing is clear – this is Walmart rhetoric: Who can help the little guy more? And in that world, despite strong rational arguments of why it shouldn’t be so, I believe Medicare Advantage plans are in big trouble.

Obama picked on them tonight. They were one of the only things he could bring himself to single out as “cuttable”. McCain didn’t discuss them, but even with his strong support a heavily Democratic House and Senate will surely go after them aggressively.

So, with government sponsored business being one of the only recent growth areas for health plans – and many insurers like Humana having gone deep into that business – it will be interesting to see the how a show down between Washington and the private sector changes the landscape of the health plan business.

Posted by RobC

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