Peterson on ‘Medicare for All’: Balancing Ambition and Statecraft

The November issue of the American Journal of Public Health features an article authored by Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson on the debate surrounding government-run “Medicare for All” healthcare coverage. The article, “Enacting Medicare for All: Balancing Ambition With the Needs of Statecraft,” highlights the leadership and coalition-building skills necessary to enact Medicare for All. Peterson draws on his practical experience as a legislative assistant for health policy in the office of South Dakota Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle during the 1990s as well as extensive research on the politics of health reform. Peterson is currently working on a new manuscript, “American Sisyphus: Health Care and the Challenge of Transformative Policymaking,” that explores public attitudes, interest group dynamics and leadership contexts over the past 100 years. He argues that “2009 to 2010 during the Obama presidency was the most advantageous political setting in U.S. history for comprehensive health care reform” and points to the U.S. Senate as “the biggest stumbling block” of the politics of reform in the United States. Looking to the 2020 presidential election, Peterson highlights the lack of clarity surrounding the topic of Medicare for All, which he explains “means different things to different people.” According to Peterson, the idea of Medicare for All is “motivational poetry for many” but actual implementation requires adaptation and skilled coalition-building. Peterson concludes by recommending that “candidates with the shared commitment to universal coverage avoid forming a circular firing squad, both on the campaign trail and once in office.” 

Peterson on Proposals to Eliminate Private Health Insurance

Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson spoke to Elite Daily about the potential repercussions of eliminating private health insurance, a point of debate among those vying for the Democratic presidential nomination. The candidates disagree on whether to allow private insurers to coexist, and compete, with a government-run insurance system. Peterson noted that most other countries with state-run health-care systems allow private insurers to fill gaps in coverage or, for those willing to pay, receive speedier care. He added that eliminating private health insurance could cost millions of jobs. “Whether you think the private insurance industry and health care realm is evil or good, there are a lot of people employed,” he said. Peterson also noted that many Americans prefer that their health care needs be met through the private sector.  “For a lot of people in the United States there is a deep skepticism of government,” he said.