Letter: Pete Buttigieg medicare plan changes nothing


Pete Buttigieg speaks at a town hall Nov. 4 in Spencer, Iowa.

Lorna Lewers

Much has been made of how smart Pete Buttigieg is. What matters, however, especially when one aspires to public service, is how you use your smarts — to serve people or to fool them. Here, I’m afraid, Pete disappoints.

For instance, the mayor at first supported single-payer Medicare for All, but for reasons to be made clear he now pushes a new paradigm: “Medicare for All Who Want It.” The name implies choice where none exists. We can choose a plan, yes, but not what we really want — our own doctor and hospital. Not if they are out of network. Pete knows this, but mum’s the word.

A second deceit: Pete presents his plan as being identical to actual Medicare for All, but in fact it is merely a public option with the usual expenses: premiums, deductibles, co-pays, out-of-pocket. No disclosure there, either.

A third deceit: Pete’s plan is designed to fail. As the public option is the last resort for the sickest among us, the high costs of caring for them will soon dry up the public option’s income stream, leaving private insurers to thrive on the steady premiums and fewer claims of their healthier clients. Who talks about this? Not Pete.

So, Mr. Mayor, why the switch to an obviously inferior health care plan?

According to Alex Kotch of Sludge last week: “Pharmaceutical, health insurance and hospital industry donors have flocked to Mayor Pete all year. As he rails against Medicare for All, health care executives have kept the money flowing.”

Third quarter accountings show Buttigieg’s war chest swollen with health industry booty, second only to those of Donald Trump and Joe Biden. And so he pushes Medicare for All Who Want It, a public option that buoys the private insurance racket and bears no resemblance to true Medicare for All.

Under Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All you get the care you need when you need it — from any doctor, any hospital — with all bills paid out of the general tax base. Pete, on the other hand, offers the old for-profit package tied with a new bow. His deceptive plan changes nothing — certainly not corporate greed, and certainly not our lives.