NewsMax Has an Interesting Health Care Plan For Us

Ben Dreyfuss points me to something unexpected today. Christopher Ruddy is the CEO of NewsMax, which ranks right up with Drudge and Breitbart News in the ultra-right-wing website firmament. He’s also a longtime pal of Donald Trump.

Hearing this, you probably figure that Ruddy opposes Obamacare, and you’re right. But not quite for the reason you might think. Ruddy hates the private health insurance industry, which he calls a “racket,” and his big problem with Obamacare isn’t so much that it provides universal coverage, but that it does so by selling that coverage through private insurers. So Ruddy has an idea. He thinks Trump should ditch the Republican health care bill; pass a few minor tweaks that allow him to declare victory; and then pass his own plan:

  • Reject the phony private health insurance market as the panacea. Look to an upgraded Medicaid system to become the country’s blanket insurer for the uninsured.
  • Tie Medicaid funding to states with the requirement each pass legislation to allow for a truly nationwide healthcare market.

In other words, Medicaid For All. It’s not Medicare For All, but it’s pretty interesting coming from a stone conservative.

Now, Ruddy also wants some other stuff. That “truly nationwide” health care market is, I assume, code for allowing insurers to sell across state lines.1 He also wants “modest” tort reform and expansion of HSAs.

But those are minor things that could be negotiated. The interesting thing here is Ruddy’s belief that hatred of insurance companies is what really drives Trump supporters. Needless to say, plenty of liberals hate insurance companies too. I don’t especially share this hatred, but private health insurance companies are inefficient, confusing, and administratively costly. I’d be happy to see them go away.

That makes this an interesting proposal. I doubt that liberals (or the medical industry) would support it unless Medicaid were bolstered in some way, but it certainly has the virtues of being (a) really simple and (b) truly universal if done right.2 I wonder if something like this has any chance of passage?3

1This is a conservative hobbyhorse that I continue not to understand. What’s conservative about this, anyway?

2That is, free for anyone up to a fairly generous level, and with universal buy-in at reasonable cost for anyone else.

3It’s worth pointing out that it does have one fatal flaw: it would cost a lot of money. That’s the one thing conservatives are dead set against.