Political Union debates Medicare for All, votes against the program


Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

Ian Odland argues against the resolution that the United States should implement Medicare for All. The Union sided with Odland in the final vote.

Emily Sakai, Reporter

Northwestern Political Union on Monday debated whether the United States should implement Medicare for All, ultimately voting 12-9 that the U.S. should not implement the program, with six attendees abstaining.

Medicare for All has been a highly debated topic within the Democratic Party and 2020 primary candidates are split on the issue. While U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has supported U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) Medicare for All bill, new Iowa frontrunner Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, favors allowing people to keep their private insurance, making a government plan available for all who want it. Other candidates like U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) have opposed the program, arguing for an expansion of the Affordable Care Act.

The debate began with an initial vote on the resolution in which four members voted pro, nine members voted con, and 11 abstained. Weinberg junior Ellie Buckner, arguing in support of the resolution, and McCormick senior Ian Odland, arguing against the resolution, gave their opening statements. Zalman Faltushanskiy, a first-year Feinberg graduate student and former member of Political Union, moderated the debate.

Buckner first defined Medicare for All as a “full single-payer system” of health insurance provided by the government. In her opening arguments in favor of this system, she focused on the suffering caused by uninsurance and underinsurance, pointing out that medical costs are the number one cause of bankruptcy for American families. Buckner also highlighted the benefits of a single-payer system, including the greater negotiating power of the government to lower costs.

“Right now in the U.S., the system is broken,” Buckner said. “Health care should be a right, not a privilege.”

Arguing against Medicare for All, Odland raised concerns about funding the program and the impact it would have on the economy, including the loss of two million jobs in private insurance.

He said that capitalism and the free-market could be utilized to better address the problem.

“I’m not arguing that the system isn’t broken, but that Medicare for All is not the solution,” Odland said.

Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer
Ellie Buckner argues that the United States should implement Medicare for All. She argued that a single-payer model could fix the broken American health care system.

A brief period of question and answer followed the opening statements. Then, the discussion opened to the other members of Political Union.

Bienen junior Sachin Shukla said national expenditures on health have decreased for countries that have implemented some form of single-payer healthcare.

“I think the biggest issue in the United States health care system is efficiency,” Sachin said.

Some of those against the resolution questioned the ability of the government to incentivize innovation under a single-payer system, arguing that competition between private firms drives costs down and improves outcomes. Many were also concerned about the cost of implementing a single-payer system.

In their closing statements, Buckner and Odland addressed the points raised by the other members.

Buckner said that there would still be an incentive to innovate under a single-payer system because while insurance providers would no longer compete, health providers would compete for consumers based on quality of care. She concluded by saying that Medicare for All is the “best option to provide adequate coverage to every single person.”

In his closing statement, Odland said that Medicare for All means “settling” for an easy solution to a complicated problem. He emphasized the potential negative impacts of Medicare for All on the economy, saying that it could cause another recession. He added that health providers could not afford to offer high-quality care without the existence of private insurance.

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