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Sarah Kliff grades Biden’s and Trump’s health care plans

The former Vox reporter returns to The Ezra Klein Show to wonk out on the 2020 health care stakes.

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US President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the final presidential debate at Belmont University on October 22, 2020, in Nashville, Tennessee. 
Jim Bourg/Getty Images

There are few issues on which the stakes in this election are quite as stark as on health care. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden plans to pass (and Democrats largely support) a massive health care expansion that could result in 25 million additional individuals gaining health insurance. The Trump administration is pushing to get the Supreme Court to kill the Affordable Care Act, which would strip at least 20 million Americans of health care coverage.

There’s no one I’d rather have on The Ezra Klein Show to discuss these issues than Sarah Kliff. Kliff is an investigative reporter for the New York Times focusing on health care policy, and my former colleague at the Washington Post and Vox where we co-hosted The Weeds alongside Matt Yglesias. She’s one of the clearest, most incisive health care policy analysts in media today and a longtime friend, which made this conversation a pleasure. We discuss:

  • The legacy of Obamacare 10 years later
  • Why the fiercely fought-over “individual mandate” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be
  • What Biden’s health care plan would actually do and where it falls short
  • Whether a Biden administration would be able to pass massive health care reform and why it might still have a chance even if the filibuster remains intact
  • The ongoing Supreme Court case to dismantle Obamacare
  • Whether Donald Trump has a secret health care plan to protect those with preexisting conditions (spoiler: he doesn’t)
  • The hollow state of Republican health care policy
  • The academic literature showing that health insurance is literally a matter of life and death
  • Which social investments would have the largest impact on people’s health (hint: it’s probably not expanding insurance)

And much more.

My conversation with Kliff can be heard on The Ezra Klein Show.

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Sarah Kliff’s book recommendations

The Healing of America by T.R. Reid

And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts

Dreamland by Sam Quinones

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen