The Soho Forum Debates

Does COVID-19 Strengthen the Case for Medicare for All? A Soho Forum Debate

Gerald Friedman of the University of Massachusetts says yes, while the Pacific Research Institute's Sally Pipes says no.


The COVID-19 pandemic makes it all the more urgent for the U.S. to install a system of Medicare for All.

That was the topic of an online Soho Forum debate held on August 19, 2020. Arguing in favor of the proposition was Gerald Friedman, a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts and the author of the book, The Case for Medicare for All. He went up against Sally Pipes, president of the Pacific Research Institute and author of False Premise, False Promise: The Disastrous Reality of Medicare for All. Soho Forum director Gene Epstein moderated.

The Soho Forum runs Oxford-style debates, meaning the audience voted on the proposition before and after the presenters' remarks. The winner is the person who moves more votes in his or her direction. At the start of the evening, 20 percent of the Zoom audience agreed that the pandemic furthered the case for Medicare for All, 60 percent were against, and 20 percent were undecided. At the end of the debate, 27 percent agreed with the proposition, 73 percent disagreed, and no one was left undecided. Because she gained the most votes, Sally Pipes was declared the winner.

The Soho Forum, sponsored by the Reason Foundation, is a monthly debate series at the SubCulture Theater in Manhattan's East Village. Debates will remain online until New York allows public events again. For information on how to watch and vote in the next online Soho Forum debate, go here.

Produced by John Osterhoudt.

Photo: Molly Adams/Flickr.

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  1. After the entire left just finished saying how epicly the federal government bungled the coronavirus response, that same bungled response strengthens the case for more federal government in healthcare?

    1. We’ll do better next time! Honest!

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      2. We just need to cut back on the austerity.

    2. There’s a difference between hiring someone who thinks they can do the job and hiring someone who thinks the job is impossible.

      Which one would you trust?

      Republicans are voted on the assumption that govt is always the problem and they do their damndest to prove everyone right.

      1. the government creates problems. Not all problems are government caused. Why the straw man?

        1. It’s all he’s got.

      2. Government healthcare workers aren’t generally political appointees. Can you point to any evidence that goverment-run healthcare performance changes when a Democrat is president?

      3. You are ugly, and your mommy dresses you funny.

      4. It IS impossible. Or did you forget that California, who would be the fifth largest economy in the world, couldn’t even make the math work?

      5. ….yet it’s cities and states run by Democrats that are such utter shitholes of “systemic racism” and the like. Weird.

      6. it all depends. if a problem actually is intractable, the person convinced they can fix it is likely far more dangerous that the one who just throws their hands up in the air

        1. The problem isn’t intractable. Complex problems are answered better and cheaper and faster and with higher customer satisfaction when entrepreneurial providers are allowed to compete. It’s been proven over and over again in countless markets. Why anyone thinks the government will do something better than free enterprise just boggles my mind.

          1. Now you can say, fine, private health care will be better for those who can afford it, but what about the poor? But that’s not what “Medicare for All” is. That would be “Medicaid for the Truly Needy”, which would be a heck of a lot cheaper.

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  2. It’s common sense.

    Nations who have had great success responding to the pandemic have government run healthcare.

    This helps everyone get the same message and the same level of care. Politicians refer to the authority of Unbiased medical professionals.

    The US is a global shitshow laughingstock. Healthcare is political And the public response is divided. The virus has found fertile ground in the US.

    1. Nobody cares what a Holocaust denier thinks.

      1. What a stupid thing to say.

        1. What a stupid thing to say, Nazi.

      2. What Don’t look at me said.

        Misek’s opinion is no more valuable than chemjeff’s, white knight’s, or eunuch’s

    2. There are 11 countries with state healthcare ahead of the US in deaths per 100,000.

      1. Name them or provide your reference.

        1. choose any of the rankings that normalized by population dummy.

        2. Google is a thing ya know? Straight from Johns Hopkins and right up your ass.

    3. Yes, countries like Singapore, Taiwan and Switzerland had absolutely terrible coronavirus outcomes.

      1. I think current numbers are the most meaningful to demonstrate the success of the response 6 months after it began.

        When looking at the current (Aug 21) three day rolling average death count from COVID and dividing that by the national population the number represents a steady state success or failure factor.

        Singapore 0 deaths/day
        Taiwan 0 deaths/day
        Switzerland 1 deaths/day
        US. 1253 deaths/day

        In fact very few countries have a deaths/day/population factor worse than the US and from what I can see only one Columbia has a fully government funded healthcare system.

        I don’t think Icetrey is going to list those 11 because they don’t exist.

        1. Yeah, and those countries have privatized healthcare. Clearly private healthcare is the problem.

          1. Except they don’t

        2. “I think…”

          No body cares what a fucking Nazi thinks.

    4. Healthcare is political And the public response is divided.

      So you want to politicize healthcare even more?

      1. If everyone gets the same government funded first world healthcare, there is no politics.

        When it’s a decentralized mash up of public and private, then there’s politics.

        1. Until we need to ban soda because it increases our healthcare costs. Or we need to debate how much money we really need to spend on our national healthcare service. Or we need to decide where to put the hospitals. Or we need to decide if gender transition is healthcare or cosmetic surgery. Or…

        2. When the government is in charge of a service then politics are no longer a factor.

          That’s… an idea.

          1. if only someone had tried it before… the USSR? Cuba? North Korea? Venezuela? Anyone?

            1. Do you really want to compare the pandemic response success With those countries 6 months in?

              Russia 107/146000000 = 5x better pandemic response than US
              Cuba 0 deaths/day = infinitely better
              North Korea no data
              Venezuela 7/28400000 = 15x better than US

        3. “If everyone gets the same government funded first world healthcare, there is no politics.”

          Nazis are not only scumbags, they’re abysmally stupid, too.

    5. It’s common sense.

      That your fat ass and bipolar diagnosis is somehow MY problem. I don’t think so.

      Nations who have had great success responding to the pandemic have government run healthcare.

      I notice you already demanded evidence of someone refuting your claim, but you provided none. Do you ever make arguments that are NOT fallacious?

      This helps everyone get the same message and the same level of care. Politicians refer to the authority of Unbiased medical professionals.

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…heh…heh… politicians deferring authority… hehehe… unbiased government employees… hee…

      Healthcare is political

      Doesn’t have to be. I certainly don’t want the government or you involved in MY healthcare. Maybe you could start a GoFundMe to replace those missing teeth.

      The virus has found fertile ground in the US.

      But not in your lungs? We can always hope…

    6. The US is a global shitshow laughingstock. Healthcare is political And the public response is divided.

      Response was divided because the science was divided. There was no ‘settled science’ on the subject. It was a process that was in contention and required adjustment in real time based on facts on the ground.

      And also, the countries with the ‘best response’ requires a lot of clarification. There are countries with national health systems that have had a terrible response, the UK being one that comes to mind. There were undoubtedly other factors in the countries that had what we might agree was a ‘good response’. Such as cultural cohesion that didn’t come from a national health plan, but more about mono-cultural aspects or smaller populations (Korea, for instance).

      1. Response was divided because the science was divided. There was no ‘settled science’ on the subject. It was a process that was in contention and required adjustment in real time based on facts on the ground.

        Hahahaha. So what you’re saying is that the US understands temperature warming at the poles has happened – from the past to now (not the future – ignore that) – because ‘the science is settled’.

        What exactly is the difference between ‘settled science’ and ‘consensus’? Because I’ve been hearing – from Americans of your political ilk – that ‘consensus’ is not just overwrought terminology (which of course it is) – but is almost evil.

        1. science is never settled. it is driven by evidence, not consensus. ask Galileo. or Newton. or Einstein. it would be laughable (if it weren’t so dangerous) that the “party of science” seems to think science is a democracy.

          1. Yes, science doesn’t care how you feel or what your politics are.

            The truth/reality we perceive with correctly applied science and logic is the best that humanity is capable of.

      2. There are a lot of factors.

        I like the deaths/day/ population factor to isolate how nations are handling it 6 months in.

        UK. 11/67900000 = 0.00000016
        US 1253/331000000 = 0.0000038

        the US is 24 times worse than the UK

        1. yes. We know you don’t understand why you normalize against population sizes. Also new York has very few dying daily now. Your method ignores how badly they fucked up. Weird.

          1. For a lot of people the SIRD model and population geography are difficult concepts to grok.

          2. Why don’t you think current deaths per day divided by population is a valid stat to demonstrate the success today?

            Everyone got sucker punched at the beginning and air travel bans slowed the initial spread.

            Six months in represents the success of pandemic response strategy

            1. the US daily death rate was steadily declining from mid April to the end of June, until the BLM mass protest super spreader event made all the young people asymptomatic carriers and started a second wave of infection.

              1. Yes national stupidity is a factor.

                1. And part of that stupid behaviour comes from the mixed messages from a decentralized pandemic response.

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    7. Fully funded healthcare benefits all citizens equally. Centralized response is better when it is the correct response to deal with a common viral enemy threatening everyone.

      Decentralized response is more difficult to coordinate nation wide as is demonstrated by the terrible daily death rate in the US.

      That’s common sense.

      1. “Fully funded healthcare benefits all citizens equally.”

        Nazis are, in addition to being scumbags, abysmally stoooooooopid.

      2. even if that were true it doesn’t necessarily mean that centralized health care is a better plan, or worth the costs and inefficiencies and negative health outcomes for non-crisis level events.

        1. If fully funded national healthcare is first rate, as would be expected in a first rate nation, everyone would get the best healthcare. First rate expertise would dictate the best strategy for pandemic response for ALL healthcare.

          That’s logic.

          1. Name one service or product that the government provides which can be described as “first rate” with a straight face. If the history of government everything has taught us anything it’s that government always provides things that are unnecessary, expensive, and of low quality.

            1. Corruption is a human condition.

              Greed can inspire greatness in good or evil.

              Centralized control is “government” and that’s how all wars are won.

      1. 3/10100000 = 13 times better than US

    8. SS Kommendant Misek is wrong as usual. Countries like the UK have been a disaster. The inky real problem we had here is democrat governors like Benito Cuomo (the homo) sending KungFlu patients back to nursing homes and consigning thousands to death because of their democrat stupidity.

      1. Uk has had it tough. Today they’re only 20 better than the US.

  3. everything Gerald Friedman can think of strengthens the case for medicare for all!

  4. Medicare violates the NAP and is therefore immoral.

    1. More I,portantly, it violates the constitution.

  5. The right way to handle the pandemic would have been to aggressively protect the elderly & obese and otherwise let the country get back to work with reasonable precautions. Then the country develops a higher level of immunity to slow the spread which protects the most vulnerable. (Not quite herd immunity, of course.) But M4A undermines this process because they do the opposite: lock down the entire country so that the elderly & obese can go out shopping (during ‘senior hours’ or some nonsense). Their goal is actually to exacerbate and prolong the pandemic because it gives the medical community far more profit and control over our lives. This is what happened in Europe and it will get far worse in the fall when the virus returns. Whereas the USA will mostly be fine because the virus has already burned through many areas.

    Ultimately it will end with accusing kids of ‘terrorism’ if they go outside (“You’re going to get people killed!”). When in fact, it’s safer outside (and gives other home dwellers more time to use the house safely). They turn all the basic medical facts upside down. Meanwhile, people with real medical conditions can’t get access to care and are left dying in the streets (unless you’re a party aparatchik).

    Finally, COVID is apparently not causing a big loss of insurance.

  6. I mean, quite honestly, only a moron would favor the status quo. We spend twice as much as Canada who somehow covers everyone. We spend 18% of GDP on healthcare yearly and have worse results, compared to the next highest of Switzerland at 13%.

    For being “the greatest nation on Earth” the US somehow fantastically sucks at something every other western nation has figured out long ago.

    1. No because I’ve dealt with too many party loyalists online to know that they will spend all day badgering doctors into appointments and meanwhile the rest of us who don’t have time to do that will be left dying in the streets. And they will come out and kick us and say, “What’s the problem moron? When we said Medicare for All, we mean for ALL.” And the program will give priority to homeless and illegals, who will turn hospitals into hotels and BLM headquarters. No thanks.

    2. Nearly 3/4ths of the spending you’re crying about is already government spending dummy.

    3. We spend more because we pay the costs for R+D. Other countries free-ride off the US. If we spent as little as Canada, medical R+D (including drug development) would stop, because it wouldn’t be profitable.

      1. We also have substantially higher survival rates for things like heart disease and cancer.

        Fuck government health care, and anyone who pushes for it should die.

    4. You mean all those western nations that rely on us for protection from evil Russia?

      The facts are pretty fucking clear: half of that 18% is government spending. Britain spends around 8% of their GDP on healthcare and “cover” something like twice as many people.

      To collect the $3trillion total dollars you would have to hold a gun to every citizens head and take every single penny they currently spend on healthcare.

    5. only a moron would favor the status quo.

      Problem is – those who favor Medicare for All and those who are opposed both favor the status quo.

      There is apparently no option in the US for actual reform. Medicare is the worst possible government or universal coverage option. Spends more per capita than all but one country. Controls no costs whatsoever – less even than the benefits dept of large employers. Anticipates no demand beyond one year even though something like ‘expected number of new 65 year olds requiring coverage’ (eg to expect geriatric coverage for GP’s) was highly predictable 65 years ago. Covers only a small portion of the total peeps. Often has worse MEDICAL outcomes in large part because access in the US is very delayed until conditions deteriorate.

      1. I just wasted a very short time scanning that steaming pile of shit; WIH was the intent?

      2. exactly. I think of it as “VA care for all”. Who would sign up for that?

        It’s as if the only thing wrong with Medicare is that it’s not mandatory for everyone? OMG

    6. “We spend 18% of GDP on healthcare yearly and have worse results,”

      I’ve read this caca de la vaca for years, and when you do the research, you’ll find that the ‘results’ are judged largely on whether the country has socialized medicine or not; I.E a circular argument.
      Lefty low-watt bulbs like wearingit don’t bother doing that research and don’t care; they pick the numbers off of VOX or some such stinking pile of shit.
      You pick Canada, so here’s why Canadians come to the US for care:
      “Canadians Are One In A Million — While Waiting For Medical Treatment”
      “Canada’s single-payer healthcare system forced over 1 million patients to wait for necessary medical treatments last year. That’s an all-time record.
      Those long wait times were more than just a nuisance; they cost patients $1.9 billion in lost wages, according to a new report by the Fraser Institute, a Vancouver-based think-tank.
      Lengthy treatment delays are the norm in Canada and other single-payer nations, which ration care to keep costs down. Yet more and more Democratic leaders are pushing for a single-payer system — and more and more voters are clamoring for one.”

      Wanna bet the lefty rag that cherry-picked the numbers you quote included that $1.9Bn in ‘medical costs’?

      1. Now let’s look at that paragon of ‘free (shitty) medical care for all’, England:
        “Britain’s Version Of ‘Medicare For All’ Is Struggling With Long Waits For Care”
        “Nearly a quarter of a million British patients have been waiting more than six months to receive planned medical treatment from the National Health Service, according to a recent report from the Royal College of Surgeons. More than 36,000 have been in treatment queues for nine months or more.
        Consider how long it takes to get care at the emergency room in Britain. Government data show that hospitals in England only saw 84.2% of patients within four hours in February. That’s well below the country’s goal of treating 95% of patients within four hours — a target the NHS hasn’t hit since 2015.
        Now, instead of cutting wait times, the NHS is looking to scrap the goal…”

        1. Lefty ignoramuses like wearingit fantasize that government promises to provide a thing are the equal to the government actually doing. Further, what lefty ignoramuses like wearingit fantasize is that government promises of a thing mean that thing is worth having and they will cherry pick data left and right in the hopes of convincing other lefty ignoramuses like wearingit that it’s true.
          It isn’t and it can’t be.
          Medical care is not a right, for the simple reason that neither lefty ignoramuses like wearingit nor anyone else can define it.
          It is a market good which changes on a daily basis *because* it is a good with ‘elastic’ demand, which means that progress happens where a market exists for (expensive) further development.
          Out Nazi ignoramus above argues that ‘free’ medical care will result in equal care for all; he’s full of shit, as anyone with MD acquaintances in CDN know well; those with connections move right on up that line.
          Further, if we managed to get equally shitty care for all of us, it is guaranteed to get worse in the future.

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  8. this is hilarious right after the Biden libertarian speech link.

  9. OK. For the ten millionth time; Medicare is TERRIBLE insurance.
    It has deductibles.
    It has NO dental coverage.
    It has NO vision coverage.
    It has NO drug coverage.
    It has NO annual limit on individual payments.
    It has NO lifetime limit on individual payments.
    It only pays 80 % of covered items.

    If it were offered by a private company, under current law it would be illegal.

    1. Medicare also on average pays out 3x what someone put in. It isn’t sustainable.

      1. We just have to give. Ore control and more money to government and that will fix the problem government created.

  10. Does the existence of illness strengthen the case for socialism?



    Almost sounds quaint now and this was back in January.

    Well no matter what democrats will fuck it up worse.

  12. At the height of their Covid-19 spread, Italy’s socialized medical bosses drew up and distributed guidelines to “equitably” provide care for its citizens. In practice, this meant that if you were over 60 years old you would not be intubated or provided with a ventilator even if it meant you might experience a negative outcome AKA death. What a great way to level the playing field. Unless you’re over 60. Like me.
    And this is just the most recent example of the wonders of socialized anything. Death boards? Of course they’ll exist because there’s always a shortage of resources which need to be “equitably” distributed.
    An interesting example resulting from the age and health based rationing of care required under socialized medicine will be that RBG would have probably been turned down for treatment after her 2nd, 3rd or 4th cancer diagnosis, which all occurred after she hit 80 years old.

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  14. You want medicare for all ? Yes, it is possible but only with financial sacrifices and a shift in priorities as far as state and federal budgets go. Think in terms of those annual govt. budgets as a big mixed berry pie. Once all the pieces of the pie are divvied up and consumed, guess what ? There is no more pie. Got that ? There is no more pie for that budget year. Simple allocation math, that is all it is.

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  16. Every market distorted by govt only has rising prices, worse outcomes and more and more debt. Medical innovation rarely comes from Europe or anywhere else with “socialized medicine.” As for markets…education, healthcare, financial …defense….again and again rising prices and a ton of either public or private debt…

    I’d like to ask “Dr” Friedman that question….

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  18. No, of course not. Why turn over medical care to the government to run? Would we have more and better and cheaper food if the government ran the food stores? The USSR already tried that, they got bread lines and starvation until they allowed people to grow their own food.

  19. One thing occurs to me after listening to this debate: some form of a “negative income tax,” including needs-based tax credits for health insurance, would very easily achieve the goals of both speakers — free markets and universal health care (or at least as close to those things as we are likely to get.

  20. While I do not believe healthcare is a right, I believe that healthcare is a service that first world nation provides to its citizens. The alternative voiced by Sally Pipes is that healthcare as she says is a product. The problem with Ms. Pipes’ view is that she will not defend the proposition, in particular she does not admit that people will get only the healthcare they can afford. Ms. Pipes instead try to paint the idea that the market will address peoples needs without really explaining how. The reality is the wealth will have the best health care whether they need it or not and the poor will have very limited healthcare. Healthcare will focus on keeping the wealthy alive while the poor cancer patient is left to die.

    1. Moderation4ever
      August.23.2020 at 9:49 pm
      “While I do not believe healthcare is a right, I believe that healthcare is a service that first world nation provides to its citizens.”

      Nomination for 5th grade level comment.
      Fuck off.

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