The huge inefficiencies in our healthcare system and the nation’s lack of preparedness point to problems that aren’t just fixed by the creation of a public option, said Sara Rosenbaum, the Harold and Jane Hirsh Professor of Health Law and Policy and founding chair of the Department of Health Policy at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University.
“I’m not in the camp of people who believe single-payer would solve this problem,” Rosenbaum told Healthline. “It certainly would have made it possible to pay for care, but one of the big problems right now is that the healthcare system is dysfunctional and insurance alone doesn’t fix it.”
From her perspective, Rosenbaum said the big issue is money. She said there needs to be funding that’s shot directly into the arm of the system, so to speak. That way, more equipment can be bought, more supplies can be stocked, and more personnel staffed.
“We don’t think of it that way, but the system is a little clumsy. A person has to show up, get covered for services, a claim submitted — clearly hospital systems need a lot of frontline money just to keep themselves afloat right now, from hospitals to community health centres,” she added. “Right now, the biggest problem they got is all non-COVID-related care revenue has disappeared.”
She said current grants from Washington are “okay,” but isn’t enough money to sustain the massive demands placed on the system.
“The model of a hospital or the model of a health centre or the model of a physician’s office, for that matter, most of their revenue comes from insurance payments. If most revenue stops, you’re like the… restaurant down the street that is now completely closed with no business,” Rosenbaum said.
It’s important to note that a public option is still separate from “universal healthcare” seen in European countries or even a standardized single-payer system that was proposed by other Democratic candidates earlier in the current election.
It wouldn’t guarantee coverage for everyone across the board. Instead, it offers an alternative to the current healthcare system, giving more people the chance to access coverage.
Inequalities and gaps in access would remain — it wouldn’t be a magical fix for all our current system’s problems.
Not all providers would opt into this system, realities like increased taxation would need to be adopted to achieve reform, and the funding issues Rosenbaum cites wouldn’t be fixed with just a public option.
All of that being said, it would still be meaningful reform from what exists today.