The sales pitch for Medicare for all is appealing—universal coverage, free access to doctors and hospitals, and no insurance premiums, copayments or deductibles. But then come the tradeoffs: Everyone would be required to give up private health insurance, and taxes could double to finance $32 trillion in added government spending over the next decade. Washington bureaucrats would decide what services are covered and how much doctors and hospitals would be paid. Rationing and waiting lines are inevitable. The American people don’t want such a major upheaval. The right solution is to give people more choices of more affordable health coverage and have states, rather than the federal government, target resources to those who need help.
|Policymakers are debating whether Congress should enact a single-payer health care system or create a system based on personal choice and market competition. The fundamental question is whether government officials or individuals and families will make the key health care decisions. The adoption of a single-payer system requires major trade-offs: a loss of personal and economic freedom, the loss of existing health coverage, the imposition of unprecedented federal taxation, major payment reductions for doctors and medical professionals, long waiting lists, and care delays and denials. |
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar sounded the alarm about Medicare-for-all during the Conservative Political Action conference on Thursday. “The threat is an immediate and complete takeover of healthcare,” Azar said. Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta and Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon joined Azar on the panel led by Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute. Azar said that the new Democratic health care plan would dramatically crash the insurance industry in ways that President Barack Obama never dared to do politically. “They promised you that you could keep your insurance if you liked it,” he said. “This time they are not promising that.”
Price controls in health care could be one of the major policy issues of the 2020 Democratic primary and a key way of differentiating the most progressive candidates on the Left from others seeking the nomination, but Republicans are posing the question as well. It should come as no surprise to find the outspoken champion for an incremental approach to single-payer health care, Sen. Michael Bennet, (D-CO), promoting government-set rates, but the fact that a Republican, Sen. Bill Cassidy, (R-LA), is joining him in leading the charge should concern conservative and moderate Republicans alike.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) is introducing the most ambitious Medicare-for-all plan yet — one that envisions a quick transition to a public health plan with a robust set of benefits.
The co-chair of the Progressive Caucus is releasing a proposal Wednesday to transition the United States to a single-payer health care system, one in which a single, government-run health plan provides insurance coverage to all Americans.
The Democratic Party’s presidential hopefuls are diverse in all ways but one — their stance on healthcare reform. The front-runners want to eliminate private insurance and put everyone on a government-run plan.
But that’s not something they’ve been enthusiastic about revealing to voters. Senator Elizabeth Warren recently refused to say whether she would support a single-payer plan that eliminated private health insurance.
The single-payer health insurance proposal known widely as Medicare for All (M4A) cannot be enacted without first answering certain questions. Foremost among these is whether the public would support shifting more than $32 trillion in M4A’s first 10 years from private health spending, over which consumers retain some discretion, to federal health spending, over which consumers do not. A related open question is whether the federal government can adequately finance this amount of spending without triggering significant adverse economic effects. Other unanswered questions include M4A’s effects on health providers, the prescription drug market, and private health insurance. M4A would add further to national health cost growth unless provider reimbursements are cut more sharply than lawmakers have been willing to do historically. Yet the consequences of enacting such payment cuts simultaneously with a substantial increase in health service demand are unpredictable.
A political party is asking for trouble when it embraces a position on a high-profile issue that most Americans oppose. But it isn’t easy to avoid this pitfall when a majority of the party’s own members endorse that position. As the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination heats up, the Medicare for All plan first proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders risks pushing candidates into this trap.
The stakes are very high: This unforced error could give President Trump his best chance to win re-election in 2020.
The laser focus on expanding the government’s role in health care has coincided with a double-digit slide in net support for “Medicare for all” among voters from January to February, according to new data from a Morning Consult/Politico poll.
Although “Medicare for all” enjoyed net support of 27 percentage points (calculated by subtracting the share of opponents from the share of supporters) among registered voters at the onset of 2019, that share dropped 15 points in the Feb. 7-10 survey, to 12 points.
The only people more eager than progressive Democrats for hearings on Medicare for All are conservative Republicans.
GOP lawmakers, fresh off an electoral shellacking fueled in large part by health care concerns, are now trolling Democrats with demands for hearings on the sweeping single-payer bill set to be introduced this month. They’re confident that revelations about its potential cost and elimination of most private insurance will give them potent lines of attack heading into 2020 — an election that President Donald Trump is already framing as a debate about “socialism.”