The Problem With The Healthcare Policy Debate

Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders face off, so who won?


Fabian Gonzalez-Cortes, Staff Writer

The Affordable Care Act is back in the public spotlight as congressional Republicans have had the ball thrown in their court on the issue. They clearly want to repeal and replace the bill, but why? And with what program?

These are both questions they’ve failed to answer for the most part, but CNN offered to give a stage on the issue to Senators Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders, both runner-ups in their respective presidential primaries and likely the most popular thought leaders to emerge from the race. So what solutions did each candidate present?

Watch The Debate Here:

As usual, they stuck to the usual party leanings on Healthcare. Sanders believes government is the solution to the problem, a problem some would argue the government created. Cruz believes less government is the solution to the problem, a problem some would argue the lack of government intervention has created.

The problem with how the debate went is how convoluted and perverted the argument became. Both politicians bent over backwards attempting to find a rationale for several indefensible positions they took on the issue. The problem stems from rigid adherence to ideology and an absolute inability to concede certain concrete points. Both Senators went the extra mile, even committing logical fallacies in the process, in an attempt to convince the American people to vote against their own interest.

Bernie Sanders essentially said that he remains convinced that it is moral to make it financially inviable to allow someone to earn a living because an employer would be required to provide healthcare to every other employee in the company. Yes, the ACA includes a provision that requires any business employing 50+ people to provide healthcare to all of them. 49 employees? No requirement. This makes it extremely difficult to continue hiring after reaching the threshold of employees. Bernie Sanders doesn’t care. The New York Times had the audacity to pat him on the back during their live coverage.

In the same exchange the point of premium rising was raised. What did Sanders do? He deflected. He pointed to the rising premiums during the Bush administration. The ACA was supposed to do this beautiful thing where all of the insurance plans would be brought together under one marketplace where insurance providers would better compete. Here’s the caveat, the ACA also forces Americans to buy insurance. This creates an artificial demand for insurance that didn’t exist before. If you can’t pay for insurance, you pay either way. Buy useless insurance, or pay the tax.

Ted Cruz refused to concede that the pre-existing condition provision was a good thing. He tip-toed around the issue, and Sanders called him out on it. On several occasions he pointed out that 6 million people lost their insurance under the ACA, Sanders countered by saying that 20 million got insurance under the ACA.
Americans are mad, their premiums are going up. Government is forcing them to buy insurance or get taxed. While both candidates point to anecdotal evidence about how x-person would have died if it wasn’t for the ACA or x-person died because of the ACA, those are the wild extremes. Only siths deal in absolutes. Sanders says it’s the ACA or Medicare-for-all. Ted Cruz says it’s deregulation, whether the Senate agrees or not.

Americans don’t want ideological grandstanding, cherry-picked statistics, being strawmanned, or the cost of healthcare to go up. This debate did more to advance each politician’s careers than it do actually give Americans hope that there is a common sense solution to the healthcare issue. It wasn’t an attempt to extend either of their hands to voters by providing a solution, it was an attempt to demonize the opposition into submission.

This was not a constructive policy discussion. It was a series of mental hoops that Sanders and Cruz had to jump through and passed off as a solution to our current healthcare crisis.