Opinion: Senators square off in town hall debate

Jacob Tabler is a junior political science major and a member of the Kent State College Republicans. Contact him at [email protected].

Jacob Tabler

On Tuesday, U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders took part in a CNN town hall event. This event placed these former presidential candidates on the debate stage regarding the future of the Affordable Care Act.

The debate lasted approximately two hours and featured two very different views on the role of the government in health care. 

The first important takeaway from the debate is that Obamacare is failing. The policy put into place during the first term of the Obama Administration was highly controversial at the time, and remains controversial today.

Statistics regarding the results of the act show how it is failing. Firstly, premiums and deductibles are on the rise, the Obama administration confirmed in October 2016 that premiums were expected to rise by approximately 25 percent.

According to an article by CNBC, even the lowest-tiered plans will average deductibles in excess of $6,000, almost a 15 percent gain. This is troublesome because of how frequently former President Obama stated that premiums would drop.

Additionally, Cruz cited a statistic stating that Obamacare regulations have resulted in 172 million hours of additional paperwork. An important thing to remember is that doctors get paid the same rate regardless of how much time they devote to either paperwork or providing care. The result is inevitably higher costs of health insurance.

Consequently, the incentive for insurance companies and doctors to participate has dropped significantly. The purchasing options for Americans has drastically decreased. Seven states, according to Business Insider, now have a single participating insurer.

Finally, a study released by the Association of American Medical Colleges stated that there is expected be to a shortage between 62,000 and 95,000 physicians. Medical students are choosing other more lucrative fields in the medical industry. These all show that the government mandated Affordable Care Act is, in fact, not affordable.

The second takeaway is what the future of health care in America is. Sanders stated a single-payer system, also known health insurance that is run solely by the government, is the answer.

Cruz stated that the solution is to get rid of the regulation that not only creates extra costs, but prevents small businesses from expanding. He makes the point that, when left to their own devices, insurance companies have the incentive to provide the best quality of insurance at the lowest possible cost, which would lower the price of premiums and deductibles.

He also mentioned some of the plans congressional Republicans have to replace the plan. These plans, though not specifically mentioned, include a plan sponsored by Ohio’s Jim Jordan, which would repeal the mandates of Obamacare but allow for Medicaid to remain funded as is.

Another plan introduced by Sen. Rand Paul would maintain provisions keeping kids on their parent’s plans until 26, as well as a two year time frame for those with pre-existing conditions to obtain coverage. However, the majority of the original mandates would be repealed.

Finally, the debate tackled the most fundamental question being debated on by Americans: Is health care a human right?

Cruz responded to this by defining what a right is. A right is not something that is provided by government, but is something that exists outside of government. The Bill of Rights does not state that the government must provide rights to freedom of speech, religion and of the press. The Bill of Rights states that government is not allowed to infringe upon the rights to freedom of speech, religion and of the press.

However, Senator Sanders believes that it is a right that must be mandated by force. When speaking with a woman whom cannot afford to expand her business because of the Obamacare mandates, Sanders replied by saying he believes she must provide her employees with health insurance regardless of her inability to even pay for her own health insurance costs.

This is where there is a fundamental difference between the left and the right. Republicans are searching for a plan that will provide low cost health insurance to as many people as possible. Democrats, such as Sanders, are willing to bankrupt small business owners to provide poor health care at high cost.

Jacob Tabler is a member of the College Republicans, contact him at [email protected].