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The Fatal Flaw With CNN's Cruz v. Sanders Healthcare Debate

by Lynn Marie Morski, published

Currently, CNN is running advertisements for an upcoming debate on healthcare featuring Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx). More specifically, it has been advertised in “fight night” style as ‘Sanders versus Cruz’, with the two going head to head over the future of Obamacare. CNN’s website describes Sanders as an “opponent of repealing Obamacare” and Cruz as “a supporter of the President’s healthcare agenda.”

Now, Senator Sanders is less of an Obamacare supporter than he is a supporter of a single-payer, Medicare-for-all system. He just so happens to think Obamacare shouldn’t be repealed without a replacement. Senator Cruz, on the other hand, has been opposed to Obamacare since before the law went into effect in 2014.

But what do people really want to hear? Is it really whether or not Obamacare should be repealed? Because that’s essentially asking Americans to decide between the devil they know and the devil they don’t, as neither of the two Senators have been invited to this debate to discuss an alternative. Additionally, neither of them has any direct experience in the healthcare industry.

Wouldn’t it be helpful to hear the suggestions of someone who does have experience in the healthcare industry? Wouldn’t it be nice if, say, there was an actual medical professional who has a plan for this country’s healthcare?

There is.

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) has recommended that there not be a repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement. Last week, he revealed his own healthcare plan called the Obamacare Replacement Act. Paul is an ophthalmologist who practiced for 18 years prior to joining the U.S. Senate.

Senator Paul’s plan eliminates the individual and employer mandates, subsidies for low and middle-income Americans, and the minimum essential benefits. It includes tax credits that can be used as Health Savings Accounts, and it allows insurers to sell policies across state lines. His plan does away with the preexisting condition protections but does allow a two year period wherein those with preexisting conditions could get coverage, after which they would be protected if they maintained coverage.

Senator Paul’s plan is just one of many, but given that a partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act is fairly likely, it would be significantly more informative for CNN to feature substantive debates featuring viable alternative proposals. Ideally those alternatives would come from someone with experience in the healthcare industry, rather than a hyped-up debate on the pros and cons of an unlikely hypothetical outcome.

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