Jul 31, 2019

The health care debate Democrats aren't having

Candidates at the Democratic debate in Detroit. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Tuesday night's field of presidential candidates fought in 30-second soundbites over the merits of single payer Medicare for All versus a public option.

Yes, but: None of the candidates moved beyond sparring over insurance reforms to address the underlying reason why people are having so much trouble affording their health care, which is that health care services keep getting more expensive.

  • Although drug and insurance companies are Democrats' favorite punching bags, hospital care is the largest driver of U.S. health prices — yet hospitals are left out of Democrats' list of predatory health care companies.

Yes, but: You can't say that hospitals emerged unscathed from last night's debate. A key rationale for Medicare for All — or any public option — is that it lowers health care costs by paying lower rates for hospital and doctor services than private insurance does, which is why providers hate both plans.

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Hospitals winning big state battles

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Several states have made ambitious attempts to address health care costs, only to be thwarted by the hospital industry.

Why it matters: States' failures provide a warning to Washington: Even policies with bipartisan support — like ending surprise medical bills — could die at the hand of the all-powerful hospital lobby.

Go deeperArrowAug 15, 2019

Hospitals are safe on the debate stage, but not in Washington

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Hospitals are the largest contributor to rising health care costs in the U.S., yet have gone unmentioned in the Democratic presidential debates so far — a reflection of their relative political popularity over drug companies and insurers.

Yes, but: Hospitals are fighting multiple battles in Washington, where lawmakers and the White House seem increasingly emboldened to take them on.

Go deeperArrowAug 2, 2019

Democrats' subtle fight about who pays for health care

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Although it was anything but straightforward, last night's Democratic health care debate was partially about who pays for health care and how they pay for it.

Case in point: Sen. Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden brought up copays and deductibles in their spat about, among other things, whether to eliminate the employer insurance system.

Go deeperArrowAug 1, 2019