11.13.19 / Updates

Democrats Giving Medicare For All The ‘Cold Shoulder’

WASHINGTON –  As the unaffordable costs of a one-size-fits-all government-controlled health insurance system are made known, The Hill reports that Democrats are giving Medicare for All “the cold shoulder,” citing the proposal’s “elimination of private insurance and its trillions of dollars in tax hikes.”

Senate Democrats are distancing themselves from Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) “Medicare for All” plan … Some Democratic senators on Tuesday said flatly that they would not vote for Warren’s plan if she were president in 2021.  “No, I wouldn’t; I’ve said consistently that I am not for Medicare for All,” said Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) … Sen.  Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said “not as I understand it” when asked if he would vote for Warren’s plan.  The proposed elimination of private insurance and its trillions of dollars in tax hikes are prime reasons Democrats cite for rejecting her approach … And it is not just a handful of moderates who have concerns with Medicare for All, but many mainstream Senate Democrats… Some Democrats fear that Medicare for All is a liability in the general election.

And in a piece entitled “Senate Democrats skeptical of Warren’s ‘Medicare for All’ push,” Roll Call reports that “Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s colleagues aren’t exactly jumping to voice support for her plan to finance ‘Medicare for All.’”

… Warren’s proposal, which she spelled out under pressure from more moderate presidential candidates, did not appear to win over additional senators.  “Assuming Democrats control the Senate, I think that we would look to build on the Affordable Care Act so you would not have to deal with the financing that Sen. Warren’s proposed,” said Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Maryland, referring to the 2010 health care law.  Cardin has not signed on to the Sanders legislation.  “There are different ways to get at this issue,” said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, adding that he did not think eliminating private insurance under a single-payer plan would be the right approach.

Writing for The New York Times last week, former high-ranking Obama Treasury official Steven Rattner warned of Medicare for All’s “daunting mountain of new taxes and fees.”  And appearing on MSNBC, Rattner added that “at the end of the day if you want to [implement Medicare for All], the middle class is going to have to contribute to it.”

And Lawrence Summers, former director of the National Economic Council for President Obama, also warned about the unaffordable tax hikes American families would face under Medicare for All, writing in The Washington Post“no other country offers as broad coverage as Medicare-for-all would or claims to provide universal health insurance without taxing its middle class.”  Summers added:

Warren’s plan will discourage hiring, particularly of low-skilled workers, by firms that currently provide generous benefits.  These firms will face the most burdensome taxes when they increase hiring and will gain thegreatest cost savingsby laying off workers.  In addition, workers’ incentives to take jobs will be dulled because they will no longer be compensated with health benefits (which will become available regardless of what they do).  There are further potential economic perversities as well: To cut costs, firms will be incentivized to get below the 50-employee threshold and scale back on current health benefits.  And all the efforts that employers have engaged in to contain costs and to encourage prevention will become pointless … [T]he combined tax impact of Warren’s various plans is extreme.

These are just the latest to join a long and growing list of Democrats who have expressed serious concerns about calls for a new government-run health insurance system, and they come as a new poll from the Cook Political Report and the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that nearly two-thirds of voters in the swing states of Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin rate Medicare for All as a “bad idea.”

Recently, Kaiser Family Foundation CEO Drew Altman writes that support for Medicare for All is “headed in the wrong direction” – meaning down – while “polling shows that support drops much further, and opposition rises, when people hear some of the most common arguments against Medicare for All.”  Arecent national poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation “probes Democrats’ views about the general approaches to expanding health coverage and lowering costs” and finds that “[m]ost Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (55%) say they prefer a candidate who would build on the Affordable Care Act to achieve those goals.  Fewer (40%) prefer a candidate who would replace the ACA with a Medicare-for-all plan.”

separate poll released by Kaiser over the summer also found support for Medicare for All on the decline, as “a larger share of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents would prefer lawmakers build on the existing ACA” and “the share of Democrats who now say they ‘strongly favor’ a national Medicare-for-all plan is down” 12 percentage points in the three months since Kaiser last asked the question.

And Voter Vitals – the Partnership’s quarterly tracking poll conducted nationwide and in 2020 battleground states – finds that a majority of Democratic voters are unwilling to pay any more in taxes for universal coverage and a supermajority of Democrats (69 percent) support building and improving on what we have today over new government insurance systems.

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