News Release

Buttigieg’s “Disingenuous Attack on Medicare-for-All”

HELAINE OLEN, helaine.olen at washpost.com, @helaineolen

Olen is an opinion writer with the Washington Post and recently wrote the piece “Pete Buttigieg’s Disingenuous Attack on Medicare-for-All,” which notes: “When South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg released a list of the clients he worked for while at powerhouse consultant McKinsey a decade ago, one immediately leaped out to observers: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. After bringing the firm on, the nonprofit insurer downsized employees. When asked about it by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow…Buttigieg denied having anything to do with those decisions, pointing out the downsizing came after he ceased working on that project. He then answered a question he wished had been asked. ‘What I do know is there are some voices in the Democratic primary right now who are calling for a policy that would eliminate the job of every single American working at every single insurance company in the country.’ …

“These are not, in many cases, jobs that help keep people healthy. They are, instead, holders of positions responsible for deciding on the validity of your insurance claim, or ensuring the medical provider gets the maximum amount of money for it. They are, in other words, the foot soldiers in a system that is causing active harm to millions of other Americans — financially, emotionally and to their health. …

“Furthermore, Medicare-for-all doesn’t leave the people holding these endangered positions hanging. It’s all but certain, for starters, that some number of these people would transition into the new system to continue filling administrative needs. As for others, the Medicare-for-all legislation does offer downsized workers retraining, and that doesn’t even include Sanders’s initiative that would guarantee anyone who wanted it a job with the federal government paying at least $15 an hour. Moreover, there are jobs in the health-care industry that need filling now or in the future. Demand for home health-care aides to work with the elderly is surging, while other research points to a future increased demand for everything from doctors to nurse practitioners to lab technicians. …

“In other words, if your defense against Medicare-for-all is that you prefer our current system of a privatized, costly and highly inefficient jobs program that delivers inferior health-care outcomes, you should be up front about all that.”

Olen’s books include The Index Card and Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry.