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Virtual Debate | Single-Payer Healthcare: For or Against? | Gerald Friedman vs. David Johnson

Outcomes | 
Policy | 

Click here to watch. 

Welcome to our first ever virtual health policy debate where we discussed Medicare for All. Arguing in favor of Medicare for All is Gerald Friedman, a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and author of the book, The Case for Medicare for All. Gerry is a proponent of a single payer healthcare system, and served as one of the key healthcare thinkers for Bernie Sanders’ presidential platforms. Arguing against Medicare for All is our own David Johnson, CEO of 4sight Health. Dave is a proponent of a multi-payer healthcare system and he supports market-driven healthcare reforms to make the system work better for patients. Tune in as David Burda, News Editor at 4sight Health, moderates the debate.

Both Gerry and Dave believe that the current healthcare system is too fragmented, too costly, and too cruel. Both think that the system needs a major overhaul. They also agree on the goals of reform, affordable and accessible healthcare for all Americans that doesn’t break the bank. However, Jerry and Dave disagree on the best route to achieve those goals. Their debate centers on how best to reengineer the business of healthcare to maximize healthcare’s overall benefit to individuals, communities, and American society.

Opening Statements About Medicare for All (02:52)

  • Gerald Friedman’s Opening Statement (02:59)
  • Dave Johnson’s Opening Statement (05:12)

Round 1: How does Medicare for All affect access? (07:57)
(watch debate here)

  • Gerald Friedman’s Round 1 Response (08:08)
  • David Johnson’s Round 1 Response (10:29)
  • Gerald Friedman’s Round 1 Rebuttal (14:14)
  • David Johnson’s Round 1 Rebuttal (16:13)

Round 2: What’s the connection between Medicare for All and cost? (19:00)
(watch debate here)

  • David Johnson’s Round 2 Response (18:47)
  • Gerald Friedman’s Round 2 Response (22:18)
  • David Johnson’s Round 2 Rebuttal (25:33)
  • Gerald Friedman’s Round 2 Rebuttal (28:09)

Round 3: Tell us how Medicare for All affects the quality of patient care. (30:16)
(watch debate here)

  • Gerald Friedman’s Round 3 Response (30:32)
  • David Johnson’s Round 3 Response (33:40)
  • Gerald Friedman’s Round 3 Rebuttal (37:28)
  • David Johnson’s Round 3 Rebuttal (40:00)

Closing Statements About Medicare for All (42:56)

  • Gerald Friedman’s Closing Statement (43:11)
  • Dave Johnson’s Closing Statement (45:37)

Click to watch the debate here.

Guest Speaker

Gerald Friedman is professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He is the author of The Case for Medicare for AllReigniting the Labor Movement: Restoring Means to Ends in a Democratic Labor Movement and State-Making and Labor Movements. Gerald is currently working on an intellectual biography of Richard Ely, an early American economist, as part of a larger study of the decline of liberalism in the United States.

Gerald received his bachelor’s in economics and history from Columbia College in 1977 and worked on the research staff of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. He also earned a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1986.

About the 4sight Health Author
David W. Johnson CEO

David Johnson is the CEO of 4sight Health, a thought leadership and advisory company working at the intersection of strategy, economics, innovation and capital formation. Dave wakes up every morning trying to fix America’s broken healthcare system. Prior to founding 4sight Health in 2014, Dave had a long and successful career in healthcare investment banking. He is a graduate of Colgate University and earned a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School.

Employing his knowledge and experience in health policy, economics, statistics, behavioral finance, disruptive innovation, organizational change and complexity theory, Dave writes and speaks on pro-market healthcare reform. His first book Market vs. Medicine: America’s Epic Fight for Better, Affordable Healthcare, and his second book, The Customer Revolution in Healthcare: Delivering Kinder, Smarter, Affordable Care for All (McGraw-Hill 2019), are available for purchase on

David Burda News Editor & Columnist

Dave is 4sight Health’s biggest news junkie, resident journalist and healthcare historian. He began covering healthcare in 1983 and hasn’t stopped since. Dave writes his own column, “Burda on Health,” for us, contributes weekly blog posts, and manages our weekly e-newsletter and weekly podcast, 4sight Friday and 4sight Roundup. Dave believes that healthcare is a business like any other business, and customers—patients—are king. If you do what’s right for patients, good business results will follow. Follow Burda on Twitter @DavidRBurda and on LinkedIn.