Health care coverage expansion remains a popular political issue for Democrats so it’s great to see Allyson Schwartz running on this issue. Democrats win when we keep the discussion to giving people nice things, and not stupidly focusing on “bending the health care spending curve” and other stuff only the Beltway cares about.
Expand coverage, improve outcomes, cut prices. That is what Democrats do. There’s no reason for Democratic politicians to publicly talk about anything else. Ads like this one that stick to those points are going to be successful Democratic ads.
Now, as it happens we’ve outgrown CHIP because the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion is supposed to cover all those kids whose Medicaid-enrolled parents didn’t used to qualify for children’s health insurance through their jobs.
The fact that Republican politicians are trying to turn protecting CHIP into a Republican political issue tells you that the program has been a success. But there’s really no reason to have multiple public insurers. There’s an ulterior Republican motive to this move, which is that they want to use the public’s status quo bias around CHIP to keep the public insurers fragmented, with weak price negotiation power over hospitals and doctors.
Thomas Fitzgerald notices that this ad is a bit of a change in tone for Schwartz on CHIP, and she’s taking less credit for its passage than she usually does. Personally I see that as a positive sign. The willingness to publicly diminish your own role in the process in order to give others ownership of an issue or project is a hallmark of good political leadership.
But I remain worried about Schwartz’s allergic reaction to some of the health care price control strategies out there, like all-payer rate setting in Maryland, which is actually a proven way to reduce costs unlike many of the cost control theories in the Affordable Care Act. And it’s also a concern that Schwartz hasn’t spoken out forcefully against the “private option” that Tom Corbett wants to pursue instead of Medicaid, which basically would cut Medicaid benefits in order to finance some extra grift for rich health care providers and doctors.
I’ve heard all the arguments for why Schwartz is allergic to the only proven cost control policies, but I still don’t think they make sense, and it’s one of the main reasons why I’ve ruled out voting for her.