Looking Past the Obamacare Debate: New Ideas

In Healthcare, New York Times Editorial On
- Updated

Single-payer advocates point out that the United States is the only advanced nation without universal health care, which is true. Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland have achieved universal coverage and affordable health care with, essentially, more comprehensive and generous forms of Obamacare that require people to buy insurance, tightly regulate insurers and provide subsidies to the poor and middle class.

State and federal lawmakers are exploring ways to increase coverage and lower costs. For example, the Nevada Legislature passed a bill in June that would have allowed people who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid to buy into that program. The bill, which would have required a federal waiver, did not become law because Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, vetoed it. But the idea has other backers. Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii said on Tuesday that he would introduce a bill that would explicitly allow states to let people buy into Medicaid.

Another approach would be to let people buy into Medicare at some point before they become eligible for the program at age 65. Hillary Clinton proposed this during her presidential campaign. Congress could also provide more generous subsidies to help middle-class people buy insurance on Obamacare exchanges. At the state level, four million people would gain coverage if Florida, Georgia, Texas and the 16 other states that have not expanded Medicaid under Obamacare changed their minds and opted in.

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