May 21, 2019 | Updates

Editorial Boards Warn About Risks Of Medicare For All

WASHINGTON – As the U.S. House Committee on the Budget prepares to hold a hearing on the impacts of a one-size-fits-all, government-run health care system, high-profile editorial boards across the country have highlighted the substantial risks and high costs of Medicare for all, noting that there are a myriad of practical ways to expand coverage that “don’t require a federal takeover of health insurance.”

The Washington Post: “No Matter What Sanders Says, There’s No Medicare-For-All Without Tradeoffs”

… [I]n reality, Medicare-for-all is not the only way to get to universal coverage; it is just the highly disruptive one Mr. Sanders prefers.  In doing so, he deeply mischaracterizes how difficult adopting it would be.  A Congressional Budget Office analysis released Wednesday underscores why … The CBO’s nonpartisan analysts found the consequences “difficult to predict” because all they had to rely on were experiences from “previous changes that were much smaller in scale.”  One thing that was clear: Many of the massive numbers of Americans employed under the current system would have to find new jobs.  Under a Sanders-style system, the employer-based health-care plans that most non-elderly Americans use would also be eliminated … Combining low doctor payments and generous benefits, the CBO report says, would create a cascade of problems: “a shortage of providers, longer wait times, and changes in the quality of care, especially if patient demand increased substantially because many previously uninsured people received coverage and if previously insured people received more generous benefits.”  Many might be willing to sacrifice the access and perks insured Americans now enjoy in return for cutting administrative hassle and covering more people.  But that is not the future Mr. Sanders is selling.  He describes a system with practically no trade-offs.  Such a system does not exist.

USA Today: “‘Medicare For All’: Bernie Sanders’ Political Pipe Dream”

Led by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, many are infatuated with a remake of health care far more radical than any in the past.  Sanders’ plan, dubbed “Medicare for All,” would eliminate private insurers and have all Americans covered through Medicare … What stands out is the utter impracticality of getting from where things stand today to what he proposes.  In an era of intense political polarization, no measure that disrupts insurance for more than 100 million Americans, most of them reasonably satisfied with their coverage, would get through Congress … The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which has long been the gold standard for estimating the cost of legislation, looked at Sanders’ plan and decided there were too many unknowns to produce a hard number.  But CBO did say that implementing it would be “complicated, challenging and potentially disruptive.”  The combination of generous benefits and lower payments to health care providers could create “a shortage of providers, longer wait times and changes in the quality of care,” CBO warned last week.

The Wall Street Journal: “The Burdens Of BernieCare”

[T]he Congressional Budget Office provided a public service last week by describing, albeit in thick and cautious bureaucratese, what it would really take to float BernieCare … [E]ven this limited analysis is instructive about the “major undertaking” of single payer, as CBO puts it in hilarious understatement.  CBO acknowledges, for example, that a transition that includes moving 160 million people from employer-sponsored coverage to single payer would be “complicated, challenging, and potentially disruptive” to health care and the economy … The Sanders Medicare for All bill would ban private coverage that competes with government … And you can’t go to any doctor you want if government isn’t paying providers what services really cost … Cutting reimbursement rates would “probably reduce the amount of care supplied and could also reduce the quality of care,” CBO says… And “unlike a system with competing private insurers, the public plan might not be as quick to meet patients’ needs, such as covering new treatments.” … Voters should know Mr. Sanders is promising miracles when what he’ll deliver is poorer care for everyone.

The Chicago Tribune: “Democrats And The Perils — Not Just Financial — Of ‘Medicare For All’”

The first problem is money.  A 2016 study by the liberal Urban Institute estimated that Sanders’ program would boost federal outlays by $32 trillion over a decade.  To put that in perspective, remember that total federal expenditures this year will be about $4.4 trillion.  Advocates say a single-payer system would eliminate so much waste that it would reduce overall national health spending, but the Urban Institute found it would raise costs by a hefty 17 percent.  Nor have Sanders & Co. devised a way to pay for that: The liberal Tax Policy Center found a funding shortfall of $16.6 trillion over 10 years, which roughly equals the entire federal debt currently held by the public.  That dire reality brings us to the second problem: public opinion.  A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that most Americans support the idea of Medicare for All — until they hear that it would raise taxes and eliminate private health insurance companies.  More than 150 million people are covered by employer-provided insurance, and most are happy with it.  Nobel Laureate economist and liberal New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote recently,  “A Medicare for All plan would in effect say to these people, ‘We’re going to take away your current plan, but trust us, the replacement will be better.  And we’re going to impose a bunch of new taxes to pay for all this, but trust us, it will be less than you and your employer currently pay in premiums.’”  That’s a tough sell.



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