Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Medicare

The Problem With Fact Checkers is that They’re Journalists, Not Academics

The row between the fact checking websites and Medicare-for-all supporters has continued over the past couple weeks. I briefly weighed in to point out that, studies aside, it’s difficult to estimate the cost because it’s impossible for us to know what level of healthcare spending will, in the long-run, be politically acceptable. The attempts to get an estimate all involve assuming particular levels of spending ex ante. The Republicans can claim that we would need to continue spending 18% of GDP, but they don’t know. Bernie Sanders can claim that we would be able to impose Medicare’s level of compensation, but he doesn’t know. Just like in other countries with systems like this, the level of expenditure would constantly be up for political renegotiation. Britain spends 7% of its GDP on its National Health Service. Will we spend 7% or 18% or somewhere in between? Anyone who tells you that they know for sure is lying.

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Misconceptions: The United States is Not “Too Big” to be More Like Denmark

Since the Democratic Party debate, folks have been talking about Bernie Sanders‘ desire to make the United States more like Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. One of the most common responses to Sanders I’ve heard is the idea that the United States is too big to successfully imitate the Nordic countries. During the debate, Anderson Cooper himself said:

Denmark is a country that has a population — Denmark is a country that has a population of 5.6 million people.

I’ve seen the same thought echoed by many people, even people who are otherwise quite sympathetic to Sanders. This is very odd, because if we subject this thought to even the tiniest amount of scrutiny, it collapses.

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The Democratic Party Debate: 5 Reasons Why Sanders Won and Clinton Lost

I watched the first Democratic Party debate, hosted by CNN. CNN also hosted the second Republican Party debate, and in both debates it tried to get the candidates to fight each other on camera for the entertainment of the viewing public, repeatedly asking questions designed to get candidates to criticize or attack one another. In the republican debate, this tactic worked perhaps too well–the debate deteriorated into a series of personal attacks, with little relevant policy content. For that reason, I didn’t bother to write up an analysis of the second republican debate–there was little of substance to analyze. The democratic candidates did a better job of resisting their baser instincts, and we did manage to get some interesting exchanges on serious policy issues, particularly between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. In these exchanges, it was quite clear that Sanders was the winner–his arguments were significantly stronger and more convincing than Clinton’s.

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The Wall Street Journal is Telling Awful Lies about Bernie Sanders

Over the last few days, I’ve seen a deeply misleading claim circulating around the internet–that Bernie Sanders is supposedly going to increase government spending by $18 trillion over 10 years. This claim originates in a Wall Street Journal article by Laura Meckler. The article is so deeply misleading that Gerald Friedman, the economist cited by the WSJ, has felt compelled to come forward and explain that his research does not at all support the WSJ’s conclusion. Indeed, Friedman claims that Sanders’ plan will actually save money. To understand how, we need to know just a little bit about healthcare economics.

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Jeb Bush’s Plan to Privatize Medicare Would Be a Disaster

US Presidential contender Jeb Bush recently spoke out in favor of the old Paul Ryan plan to “phase out” Medicare and replace it with a voucher program:

Said Bush:

I think a lot of people recognize that we need to make sure we fulfill the commitment to people that have already received the benefits, that are receiving the benefits. But that we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something, because they’re not going to have anything.

When pressed on the point, Bush doubled down:

It took less than a day for me to be attacked for the very thing that I predicted would happen and that’s just ridiculous. We need to have a grown-up conversation about these issues.

Bush argues that if we do not privatize Medicare, the system will collapse. Consequently, he thinks those who disagree with him are not taking the issue seriously. But this argument is grossly misleading–Medicare is in a much stronger financial position than Bush would have us believe, and a privatized system would sharply increase healthcare costs for seniors.

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