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COMMENTARY: Government takeover of health care would hurt Nevada workers

Many Democratic presidential candidates are making health care reform the defining issue of their platforms — but some of their calls to fundamentally overturn our current health care system and move toward a government-run system are woefully out of touch with the average, working-class American’s priorities.

Especially in the auto industry and among other unionized workforces, private and employer-sponsored health care coverage is something that workers have fought hard for over the years. Running on a platform of undermining and essentially dismantling these unique, individualized plans seems like a foolhardy endeavor, to say the least. This is hardly the way to win over blue-collar voters.

If Democratic presidential candidates want a shot at capturing the support — let alone votes — of working families here in Nevada and across the country, they should present realistic plans that would actually address the two biggest concerns folks have when it comes to health care: lowering costs and expanding coverage. Unfortunately, a government-run health insurance system will fail on both counts while also taking away the hard-earned coverage so many in organized labor have struggled to secure.

Introducing a government-run health care program to compete with private- and employer-sponsored health insurance plans on the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges would create a fundamentally unlevel playing field. Private and employer-sponsored plans would struggle to compete and eventually, one by one, these carefully curated and individualized plans would begin to disappear until only the government’s one-size-fits-all plan remained.

It’s hard to picture a world in which fewer options and less competition in the market results in better outcomes for consumers — or, in this case, patients. Yet, that is precisely what these government-controlled health care systems will do to the private insurance marketplace. Rather than addressing the concerns most workers and employees have, they would only leave Americans paying more to access uneven and potentially inferior coverage and care — while incurring longer waiting times. This hardly seems like an improvement.

The fact of the matter is, whether it is “Medicare for All,” a public option or single payer, any of these massive, top-down proposals will inevitably result in higher taxes on Americans. That is why we always hear so little about how these various programs would be financed in any of the presidential debates or forums. With a price tag of more than $30 trillion in the first decade, there is simply no way for Americans to avoid getting hit with massive tax increases.

There is no doubt our current health care system is flawed. However, just like the health care coverage unionized auto workers and other industries have fought so hard to gain, it has taken us years to get to a system where upward of 290 million Americans are currently covered under the ACA. Rather than throwing all that progress away and gambling it all on an uncertain future, Democratic presidential candidates and other national leaders should come up with some practical solutions for strengthening health care in America.

Ultimately, finding ways to improve upon the successes we have seen under the ACA, while continuing to address the areas that still need improvement, is a far better approach than fundamentally overhauling our entire health care system. Let’s hope our leaders in Washington and those running for the highest office in the country take note.

— Andrew MacKay is the executive director of the Nevada Franchised Auto Dealers Association.

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