3.4.20 / Updates

Fact Check-Up: Correcting Common Myths About Medicare For All

WASHINGTON – As health care remains a top concern for voters and the presidential primaries continue to heat up, some candidates have made misleading claims about their proposals for a one-size-fits-all new government health care system known as Medicare for All.  Studies and experts agree that Medicare for All would force Americans to pay more to wait longer for worse care.

MYTH #1: Medicare For All Would Save Americans Money:

FACT: A Number Of Academics, Think-Tanks, And Non-Partisan Organizations Have Found Medicare For All Would Require Tax Increases On Americans And Would Increase Health Care Expenditures For The U.S. Federal Government.  

  • Under Medicare For All, “Federal Spending On Health Care Would Increase By Roughly $34 Trillion.” (MJ Lee & Tami Luhby, “Day After Debate, Elizabeth Warren’s Campaign Says It’s Reviewing ‘Other Revenue Options’ For Medicare For All,” CNN, 10/16/20)
  • “However You Cut It, Medicare For All Would Inevitably Lead To Massive Tax Increases.” (Robert Pozen, “‘Medicare for All’ Isn’t Medicare,” The Wall Street Journal, 5/1/2019)
  • “Government Spending On Health Care Would Increase Substantially Under A Single-Payer System Because The Government (Federal Or State) Would Pay A Large Share Of All National Health Care Costs Directly.” (“Key Design Components And Considerations For Establishing A Single-Payer Health Care System,” Congressional Budget Office, 5/1/19)

MYTH #2: Medicare For All Can Be Paid For By Taxing Wealthy Americans:

FACT: Individual And Corporate Income Tax Increases Still Could Not Finance The Full Cost Of Medicare For All.

  • “Doubling All Currently Projected Federal Individual And Corporate Income Tax Collections Would Be Insufficient To Finance The Added Federal Costs Of The Plan.” (Charles Blahous, The Costs Of A National Single-Payer Healthcare System, Mercatus Center, 2018)
  • “According To Studies From Both The Liberal Urban Institute And The Conservative Mercatus Center, Sanders’ Plan Would Increase Federal Spending By $32 Trillion Over 10 Years. Even Doubling All Federal Individual And Corporate Tax Receipts Would Be Insufficient To Pay That Cost.” (Jim Hartman, “‘Medicare For All’ Is Misleading,” Nevada Appeal, 6/6/19)
  • Brian Riedl, Senior Fellow At The Manhattan Institute: “There Are Likely To Be A Lot More Losers Than Winners.” “Sanders has proposed a wealth tax, a bank levy and premiums paid by employers and employees. But that only raises about half of what is needed, meaning that payroll taxes and income tax increases would necessarily have to be part of the plan.  ‘There are likely to be a lot more losers than winners,’ Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the right-leaning Manhattan Institute. ‘It’s hard to do the tax shift without making most families losers.’” (Laura Davison, “Bernie Sanders Predicts His $10,000 Tax Hike Will Save You Money. Watch The Fine Print,” Bloomberg, 7/2/19)
  • Health Care Would Not Be Free Under Medicare For All. “Care would not be free in a single-payer system – it would be paid for differently. Instead of paying insurance premiums, people would pay taxes, which would be collected by a government agency and used to pay for health care on behalf of the population.” (Jodi Liu, “Medicare For All Is An Election Talking Point For All. What Does It Really Mean?” USA Today, 10/26/18)

MYTH #3: Even With Higher Taxes, Americans Would Pay Less For Health Care Under Medicare For All:

FACT: Most Americans Would End Up Paying More Under Medicare For All Than Under Their Current, Private Coverage.

  • Committee For A Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB): Medicare For All Would “Require The Equivalent Of Tripling Payroll Taxes Or More Than Doubling All Other Taxes.” (“How Much Will Medicare for All Cost?” Committee For A Responsible Federal Budget, 2/27/19)
  • CRFB Chairman: “No Matter How You Cut The Numbers, There Is Absolutely No Way To Pay For Medicare For All Without Tax Increases – Or Spending Cuts – On The Middle Class.” (Dan Diamond, “The Hard Choices Facing ‘Medicare For All,’” POLITICO, 10/29/19)
  • 71 Percent Of All U.S. Household With Private Insurance Today, Would Pay More Under Medicare For All. (Stephanie Armour, “Medicare For All Loses Support Amid Lack Of Detail On Costs To Voters,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/17/19)
  • “Economists Say That Most Taxpayers Would Pay More In Taxes Than They Would Save From Having The Federal Government Absorb The Cost Of Health-Care Premiums.” (Matt Viser & Sean Sullivan, “Will Medicare-For-All Hurt The Middle Class? Elizabeth Warren And Bernie Sanders Struggle With Questions About Its Impact,” The Washington Post, 10/5/19)
  • Democratic Strategist Warns People Covered Under ACA Medicaid Expansion Could Pay More Under Medicare For All. “It is concerning that among the financing options floated include higher costs on some families currently covered at no cost under the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion,’ says one progressive policy strategist who requested anonymity in order to avoid a public spat with Sanders.  ‘Growing support for universal health care is through isolating necessary tax increases to the wealthy, not working families, and single-payer proponents have yet to detail how to make that math work.’” (David Cantanese, “Medicare For How Many?” U.S. News, 4/12/19)

MYTH #4: Medicare For All Would Contain Costs:

FACT: Medicare For All Would Ration Care – Not Contain Costs.

  • Kate Baicker, Dean Of The University Of Chicago Harris School Of Public Policy: “I’m not sure that we can lower overall health spending without restricting access to care in ways that people might not like, such as through denying coverage, or even shortages caused by cutting back on reimbursement rates … it’s unrealistic to hope that we can insure more people but spend less on health care overall without substantially cutting back on payments or restricting services, both of which would restrict access to care for the insured.” (Jason Millman, “Would ‘Medicare For All’ Really Save Money?,” POLITICO, 11/25/19)
  • Forcing Providers To Lower The Cost Of Care Could Limit Americans’ Access To Care And The Quality Of Care They Receive. (“Key Design Components And Considerations For Establishing A Single-Payer Health Care System,” Congressional Budget Office, 5/1/19)
  • Congressional Budget Office: “… If there was little or no cost sharing and payment rates were substantially lower than what providers would receive under current law, CBO expects that average wait times would increase.” (“Answers To Questions For The Record Following A Hearing Conducted By The House Committee On The Budget: Key Design Components And Considerations For Establishing A Single-Payer Health Care System,” Congressional Budget Office, 12/20/19) 

MYTH #5: Medicare For All Would Expand Access To High-Quality Care:

FACT: Medicare For All Would Hurt Access To High-Quality Care – Hurting Communities Who Need It Most.

  • Issue Brief: Medicare For All “Could Have A Significant Negative Impact On The Adequacy Of The Country’s Health Care Workforce, Access To Care, And, Ultimately, Patient Outcomes.” (“Medicare For All And The Future Of America’s Health Care Workforce,” FTI Consulting, 1/13/20)
  • The Reduction Of Physicians “Would Be Felt Most Acutely In Rural Communities Already Experiencing Access Challenges … Shortages Of Healthcare Workers In Rural Areas Widen Existing Health Disparities And Contribute To Hospital Closures.” (“Medicare For All And The Future Of America’s Health Care Workforce,” FTI Consulting, 1/13/20)
  • Experts Warn That “Some Hospitals, Especially Struggling Rural Centers, Would Close Virtually Overnight” And “Others … Would Try To Offset The Steep Cuts By Laying Off Hundreds Of Thousands Of Workers And Abandoning Lower-Paying Services Like Mental Health.” (Reed Abelson, “Hospitals Stand To Lose Billions Under ‘Medicare For All,’” The New York Times, 4/21/19)
  • Kate Baicker, Dean Of The University Of Chicago Harris School Of Public Policy: “I’m not sure that we can lower overall health spending without restricting access to care in ways that people might not like, such as through denying coverage, or even shortages caused by cutting back on reimbursement rates … it’s unrealistic to hope that we can insure more people but spend less on health care overall without substantially cutting back on payments or restricting services, both of which would restrict access to care for the insured.” (Jason Millman, “Would ‘Medicare For All’ Really Save Money?,” POLITICO, 11/25/19)
  • Forcing Providers To Lower The Cost Of Care Could Lower Americans’ Access To Care And The Quality Of Care They Receive. (“Key Design Components And Considerations For Establishing A Single-Payer Health Care System,” Congressional Budget Office, 5/1/19)

MYTH #6: Patients Would Still Have Choice & Control Under Medicare For All:

FACT: Medicare For All Would Eliminate The Coverage 180 Million Receive Through Their Jobs.

  • Medicare For All Would Replace All Private Insurance With A Government-Run Health Care System, Eliminating the Current Coverage Of 180 Million Americans Who Receive Insurance Through Their Employer, The Highly Popular Medicare Advantage Program, Medicaid Managed Care And The Individual Exchanges. (Pollitz, Neuman, Tolbert, Rudowitz, Cox, Claxton, and Levitt, “What’s The Role Of Private Health Insurance Today And Under Medicare-For-All And Other Public Option Proposals,” Kaiser Health News, 7/30/19)

MYTH #7: Patients Could Keep Their Health Care Providers Under Medicare For All:

FACT: Medicare For All Would Hurt The Health Care Workforce And Eliminate Millions Of Jobs.

  • Medicare For All “Could Have A Significant Negative Impact On The Adequacy Of The Country’s Health Care Workforce, Access To Care, And, Ultimately, Patient Outcomes.” (“Medicare For All And The Future Of America’s Healthcare Workforce,” FTI Consulting, 1/13/20)
  • The Reduction Of Physicians “Would Be Felt Most Acutely In Rural Communities Already Experiencing Access Challenges … Shortages Of Healthcare Workers In Rural Areas Widen Existing Health Disparities And Contribute To Hospital Closures.” (“Medicare For All And The Future Of America’s Healthcare Workforce,” FTI Consulting, 1/13/20)
  • “Shifting The Entire U.S. Population To Medicare Would Result In An Estimated 16 Percent Cut To Spending On Patient Care Provided By Physicians.” (“Medicare For All And The Future Of America’s Healthcare Workforce,” FTI Consulting, 1/13/20)
  • Two Million Jobs Could Be Lost Under A Medicare-For-All System That Eliminates All Private Coverage. (Pollin, Heintz, Arno, Wicks-Lim & Ash, “Economic Analysis Of Medicare For All,” Political Economy Research Institute Of The University Of Massachusetts-Amherst, 11/30/18)



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