A mother in Nova Scotia living with cancer is challenging Premier Stephen McNeil to meet with her after a years-long battle with the province’s health caresystem. In an emotional video posted to her Facebook page this week, Inez Rudderham said her cancer went undiagnosed for two years because she couldn’t access a family doctor to get a referral to an oncologist. By the time she was diagnosed, her cancer had progressed to its third stage. “I dare you to take a meeting with me, and explain to me, and look into my eyes and tell me that there is no health care crisis in my province of Nova Scotia,” said Rudderham, 33. Rudderham said she was turned away from emergency departments three times before her concerns were taken seriously.
House Democrats on Wednesday unveiled a more moderate proposal for expanding health care coverage than M4All legislation supported by a number of the party’s 2020 presidential candidates. The Medicare for America Act, sponsored by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), would not move the entire country into a single government-sponsored health plan. It would preserve employer-based coverage but allow Americans to enroll in an expanded Medicare plan, with caps on what people would have to pay in premiums.
The core appeal of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate’s Medicare for All proposals, whether it’s optional buy-ins floated by moderate Democrats or Sen. Bernie Sanders’s comprehensive single-payer reforms, is the notion that enormous savings could be generated by dispensing with private insurance. Advocates claim that that insurer profits, as well as costs associated with managing risk and advertising plans, could be dispensed with, and that hospital fees could be greatly reduced by imposing Medicare rates, which are 40% lower under the M4All plans.Yet, it is notable that no such savings ever have materialized—even under the most propitious of circumstances.
Creating a single-payer health–care system in the U.S. would be a “major undertaking that would involve substantial changes” to medical coverage, according to a report issued by the Congressional Budget Office. The nonpartisan agency that evaluates the potential budgetary, economic and other effects of legislative proposals didn’t assess any specific bill or estimate costs. “The transition toward a single-payer system could be complicated, challenging and potentially disruptive,” the CBO said on Wednesday.
More than 100 House Democrats have endorsed Rep. Jayapal’s Medicare for All Act of 2019. Fourteen Democratic senators have co-sponsored a similar bill from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The title is deeply misleading. It implies that the current Medicare system would be extended to all Americans. In fact, Medicare for All differs from Medicare in fundamental ways. While America needs a debate about health care, it should be based on an accurate description of the alternatives.
Americans are frustrated with the current health care system. Care costs far too much. Millions are priced out of the insurance market, and even those with insurance say premiums and deductibles are so high they might as well be uninsured. But when government officials make decisions about what services will be covered, how much providers will be paid, and how much citizens must pay in mandatory federal taxes, consumers will have even fewer choices and less control than they do today. M4All will reduce access to new technologies, stifle innovation, and result in a near-doubling of the tax burden. The Left is undaunted with its promises of free virtually unlimited health care for everyone and has an answer for everything. The House Rules Committee hearing on Tuesday, where Chuck Blahous and I testified, showed what we are up against.
“Medicare for All” sounds good until you see its high price tag and consider the implications it would have on the quality and access to health care. The House Rules Committee held its first ever hearing Tuesday on the Democrats’ Medicare for All bill introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA). The bill would implement a government takeover of health care coverage, where all medically necessary services would be paid for by the federal government and all private insurance that duplicates government coverage would be prohibited. Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute and a witness testifying against the bill, argued that it’s hard to see how patients would be more empowered when dealing with a single government payer for health care: “In a country that values diversity, will one program with one list of benefits and set of rules work for everyone?”
As I listened to the Town Hall where Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders proclaimed his dream of Medicare for All, I realized that he was speaking in vague generalities that were void of realism. Medical care would be “free at the point of service with no co-pays.” Would there be any brakes on the over-utilization of services? He had no answer. He thus needs to understand that the demand for medical services is limitless when other people are paying the bill. The suggestion that “Medicare for all” would save money is surely an example of a pipe dream.
Last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders reintroduced a bill that would end health care as we know it, and Americans should thank him for letting us see where the Democrats want to take the country. Its central premise appears to be that Washington bureaucrats know better than patients and doctors. But as if taking health care choices from patients isn’t bad enough, this bill also hurts seniors, eliminates private health insurance for nearly 180 million Americans, wipes out Medicare Advantage for over 22 million, and harms our economy for generations to come. It doesn’t stop there: For good measure, the bill removes critical support for children and service members’ families while providing free care to illegal immigrants.
Many of the left’s policy proposals come with the same design flaw: While sounding great on paper, they have little chance of working in practice. Monday brought one such type of reality check to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and supporters of single-payer health care, in the form of the annual Medicare trustees report. The report once again demonstrates Medicare’s shaky financial standing, as the retirement of 10,000 Baby Boomers every day continues to tax the program’s limited resources. So why would Sanders and Democrats raid this precariously funded program to finance their government takeover of health care?