Sunday, December 8, 2019

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Debates flush out policy suggestions in sound-bites that not everyone fully comprehends


Round two of the democratic debates revealed more snapshots into the variations the democratic candidates have on policy and legislative actions to address major concerns held by the American people.

At the top of the list for most of the candidates is the healthcare issue, with some candidates supporting healthcare for all and others preferring a combination of private and public insurance options.

The argument between the different democratic policies tends to center on the inclusion or exclusion of the private insurance choice.

Under the original version of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a public insurance option would have been available to the public.

The public option was meant to drive competitive costs down, but many people rejected that plan for various reasons, one being a fear it would drive private options out of the system and lead to a single-player, public health care system, or medicare-for-all.

In healthcare proposals that aim to repeal and replace the ACA, state-based block grant or state innovation approaches.

A block grant is a grant-in-aid of a specified amount from the Federal government of the United States to individual states and local governments to help support various broad purpose programs, such as law enforcement, social services, public health, and community development.

According to the Center on Budget Policies and Proposals, a nonpartisan research and policy institute, “Block grant funding levels typically are fixed; this contrasts with an entitlement structure, in which anyone who is eligible for benefits or services can receive them and funding increases automatically and immediately to respond to increased need due to economic downturns, natural disasters, or higher-than-expected costs (such as when a new drug or procedure increases health care costs).”

The 2017 Graham–Cassidy–Heller–Johnson amendment is a prototype proposal of this health care option. The largest public criticism of this amendment is that it would have given states the option to repeal the pre-existing conditions protection under the ACA.

On the other end of the spectrum, proponents for the Medicare-for-All would reduce the complexities of the current ACA system, save in administrative costs, eliminate or drastically reduce insurers and investors.

One of the biggest arguments against medicare for all is that there are said to be 750 million people with medical insurance that would change even if they do not want that insurance coverage to change.

Understanding the intricacy of these proposals and how they could impact various sectors of the medical field and the public in general is clearly still a matter of such intense debate that determining who supports which system or which system to support is daunting.

And that is just looking into the health care policy options. Other topics laid out for candidates to discuss include the Department of Defense actions, foriegn policies and trade agreements, climate change, renewable energy. infrastructure, gun control, minimum wage needs, union strength, corporate interference in elections and legislative actions, immigration, and racial tensions. 

In the coming weeks, the West River Eagle will tackle the issues and attempt to flush out the debates with a focus on what people are arguing for and an effort to understand the different options and how they could impact our nation now and into the future.

In this way, we hope to give our readership a chance to build a more informed base for the arguments they hear in sound-bites and five-minute to one-minute statements on debate stages or campaign speeches.

If there is a topic you would like us to research and cover, then please share your idea with me at jolrust@gmail.com. Next week, we will explore health care policies in greater depth and provide a chart of who supports what based on candidate campaign debates, websites and speeches.