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  • KIRAN STACEY: Could health care be

  • about to play a decisive role in yet another American election?

  • Welcome to Week 6 of Washington, DC's coronavirus lockdown,

  • where the contours of November's presidential election

  • are beginning to take shape.

  • One issue rising up the agenda is health care,

  • and specifically, what should happen

  • to the tens of millions of people

  • who are likely to lose their jobs as a result

  • of this crisis, and with it, their employer-linked health

  • insurance plans.

  • Well, one option on the table is simply

  • to extend the government-backed Medicare and Medicaid schemes

  • to anyone who wants them for the duration

  • of the coronavirus crisis, at least.

  • This would be what the Left would

  • call "Medicare for All," at least

  • for the foreseeable future.

  • This, however, would be anathema to many

  • on the Right, who are keen to make sure the private insurance

  • market does not get undermined.

  • Therefore, another option being discussed

  • is for the government to step in to subsidise

  • a scheme known as COBRA.

  • This allows people who have just lost their jobs,

  • and with it their employer-linked insurance

  • plans, to continue accessing private health insurance plans,

  • but at a cost.

  • The problem with this scheme has been

  • that it is so costly, in fact, that people have simply

  • decided to go without insurance rather than accessing it.

  • The government could step in to cover those costs,

  • but of course, doing so would also be tremendously expensive,

  • with researchers estimating that it

  • could cost the government into the hundreds of billions

  • of dollars.

  • There is a third way available.

  • The US government could decide instead

  • to allow anybody to enrol in a plan

  • under the Obama-era Affordable Care Act.

  • Now this would mean that people could

  • get a relatively low-cost plan, but still

  • from a private supplier.

  • It would seem to be a compromise of sorts,

  • but the problem is the Republicans have

  • spent much of the last few years arguing

  • that Obamacare, as it is commonly known,

  • should be rolled back, not extended.

  • Changing their minds on that could lose them

  • a lot of their key support.

  • Whichever way this works out, it could be

  • an advantage for the Democrats.

  • Either there is a wide expansion of government-backed health

  • care, which is something many on the Left

  • have argued for for years.

  • Or there isn't, and the Democrats

  • can go into the next election promising

  • to look after tens of millions of people who otherwise

  • have been forgotten about.

  • [THEME MUSIC PLAYING]

KIRAN STACEY: Could health care be

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B1 UK FinancialTimes insurance government election health health care

Why healthcare during coronavirus could cost Trump the election DC lockdown diary

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    洪子雯 posted on 2020/05/15
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