What They’re Watching: Micah Weinberg

Micah Weinberg, President of the Economic Institute, Bay Area Council, joins us in What They’re Watching to talk about politics and policy in health care.

The politics and policy have almost nothing to do with each other. You know, these occur on pretty much completely different tracks. And people forget that in the political process. And they forget that they don’t actually know anything underneath the, you know, three talking points that their, you know, tribe has decided to be, you know, parroting at any particular point that are effectively utterly meaningless, right? I mean, the fact that people are excited about high risk pools is a great example of this. So high risk pools, it’s not a policy, it’s a talking point, right? And anyone who actually looked at the experience with high risk pools would say “No, didn’t work out so well, anywhere.” And if it was going to work out, you need to fund it about ten times as much as the Democrats did, which obviously the Republicans aren’t going to do. So you know, it’s just, it does get pretty frustrating as a nerd who cares about politics, to try to make a meaningful difference in this area.

I think too much gets made out of the differences between states and the differences between ideological approaches to healthcare reform. If you want to create healthy individual insurance markets, there are a number of different things that you can do and whether you do it through an active purchasing exchange, which liberals are going to get excited about, or whether you talk about creating a level playing field through good regulatory reform, which conservatives are going to be excited about, you’re going to do essentially the same things. And so figuring out how to make sure that consumers can understand the benefits that they’re getting, understand they can afford the coverage that they’re being offered, are things that you do the technical engineering underneath that, and then you figure out what you have to tell the politicians to make them excited about it.