A Minnesota debate on single-payer health care

A group demonstrating for health care reform
A group props up an inflatable doctor that will be carried through the streets. The group's goal is to get the word out about single-payer health care.
Nikki Tundel for MPR News

A discussion about one of the top issues on the minds of most Americans: health care.

State Senator John Marty has long been a proponent of single-payer health care. He discussed the pros and cons of this idea with fellow State Senator Scott Jensen, who is a medical doctor.

They agree that health care is a moral imperative, but disagree on the best way to provide it, and pay for it.

Sen. Marty says Obamacare is not a complete solution because it didn't fundamentally change the health care system. Sen. Jensen said, at least, Obamacare did "engage American society" on health care, and make a "strong effort to move the needle." But it's not, Jensen said, a good solution.

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Marty said "I want to have a system that everybody pays into, everybody benefits from, and has comprehensive benefits. Universal coverage for everybody, including all services."

Critics of single-payer health care say it's not affordable. But Marty says, "it's less expensive than what we're doing now."

Jensen does not believe a single-payer system can work, and points to the problems in places like Canada and Switzerland, and says states like Vermont and California tried single-payer systems and had to back off.

Jensen said he wants to focus on what can work. "We have a public-private partnership that works... We need to stop the bumper-sticker solutions," he said, "and start saying how do we really solve this? And it starts with defining what we really need. And we don't need everything, but we need something."

Scott Jensen is a Republican from Chaska and a medical doctor. He's the author of "Relationship Matters: The foundation of Medical Care is Fracturing."

John Marty is a DFL-er from Roseville, who has written a book, "Healing Health Care: The Case for a Commonsense Universal Health System."

Political science professor Larry Jacobs moderated the discussion on October 1, 2018 at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School.

To listen to their discussion, click the audio player above.