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Mark Cuban: Amend U.S. Constitution to Make Healthcare a Right

WASHINGTON – Billionaire entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks Mark Cuban criticized the Congressional Budget Office’s use of a 10-year score to determine the effects of the Republicans' American Health Care Act and said the U.S. Constitution should be amended to make healthcare a right.

Cuban compared the CBO’s use of a decade timeframe to the ABC television show Shark Tank, where he stars as one of the investors that hears pitches from business owners. He said one- to four-year timeframes are better but “marginally predictable.”

“You’re not going to be able to predict anything,” Cuban said during a discussion hosted by the new media company Axios on Wednesday. “What happens in one year? What happens in two years? What happens in three or four years? Those are the only numbers that are marginally predictable. The idea that we’re trying to create what I call headline porn – 24 million lose insurance; $337 billion in savings over 10 years – if someone came on Shark Tank and said ‘here’s what we’re going to do in 10 years’ you would be out of there in 30 seconds, yet that’s the number we’re using to try to make a point in the media. It’s ridiculous.”

Cuban explained that he personally supports modifying the U.S. Constitution to make healthcare a right for all Americans and creating a single-payer healthcare system for chronic illnesses.

“I think healthcare should be a right. If there’s a legitimate way to modify the Constitution, I literally think there should be an amendment to the Constitution for healthcare for chronic illnesses and serious injury. We all play the genetic lottery,” he said.

PJM asked Cuban why he thinks a single-payer healthcare system for catastrophic coverage would work in the United States.

“I think by creating a single-payer system just for chronic illnesses and for life-threatening illnesses – not everything, right? And we do some of that with Medicaid and Medicare already, but just get it out on the table. Then, I think, from a cost perspective all of a sudden all of the corporations that provide healthcare, their costs go down dramatically so that’s one big benefit,” he said during an interview at the event.

“Everybody who has that uncertainty of not knowing if something goes really wrong in their family – what they are going to do – that goes away so, I think that makes people a lot more productive and a lot more self-sufficient. And in terms of having to pay for it, well, you know, I think by just dealing with the issues and obviously there’s always that risk – the libertarian in me says, ‘OK, it could always be mis-run by doing that’ but I think you reduce the bureaucracy so this wouldn’t be single-payer insurance,” he added.

Under Cuban’s proposal, someone would be able to walk into the hospital, their digital patient records would be accessible and they would receive healthcare for a chronic illness. He said Americans would have to be willing to give up “a little privacy.”

“I think all of the talk about Trumpcare vs. Obamacare really just avoids the ultimate question, which is, is healthcare a right or not? And I don’t think, you know, if you look at my pinkies, they are a mess because when I was playing rugby and basketball and they were popping in and out, I couldn’t afford insurance – that stuff should not be covered,” he said. “But I’ve had friends who have had cancer, we’ve all had people who have had severe illnesses and if they didn’t have insurance. In a couple cases, I’ve since paid for them because they didn’t have insurance or enough insurance. I think that’s wrong – that’s a cost we all should share.”

Some Republicans have argued that the federal government could not operate a healthcare system effectively for every American, citing the problems experienced at Veterans Affairs hospitals.

“There are ways to deal with the bureaucracy, but let’s focus on dealing with the bureaucracy so the doctors can deal with taking care of people’s health. I would rather fight that battle than fight the nuance of what’s chronic and what’s not chronic, rather than, ‘You know what? You are shit-out-of-luck,’” he said.

Cuban said the government-paid catastrophic coverage could lower healthcare costs for insurance companies and help consumers.

“Pre-Obamacare, the insurance companies knew it was coming, right. They could have pushed rates down, but healthcare costs kept on going up,” he said.

“The taxes we pay now, the money that’s being paid to insurance companies now, the money that’s being paid by employers who are self-insuring, for all these things – these are all the greatest risks insurance companies face,” he added.

Cuban said he would like to see the Trump administration reduce the size of government and use that money to provide more services to Americans.

“As a libertarian, I think we can reduce employment in government by at least a third, reduce the overhead and administration by that much or more so that we can offer more services for our citizens,” he said. “When it comes down to it, where I tend to disagree with everybody, and this is the libertarian in me, I’m happy to push down the size of government and make government more efficient because more money can pass through the government and help the people who need it.”

“That’s what needs to change – not ‘because we can’t manage government, let’s not deal with the healthcare of our citizens.’”