WASHINGTON – In an opinion piece published today by The Washington Post (“The trap of Medicare-for-all,” pg. A21), former U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) becomes the latest prominent Democrat to warn her party of the massive risks – both practical and political – of embracing a one-size-fits-all health care system. She writes:
According to Census Bureau data, roughly 90 percent of Americans now have health-care coverage. Of those, 217 million are covered by private health plans, 181 million of them with employer-provided insurance. Polling indicates that most Americans are satisfied with the health care they receive and do not want their coverage options taken away and replaced with a one-size-fits-all government program.
Meanwhile, as The Post reported in an article headlined “Medicare-for-all plans get a reality check,” the nonpartisan analysts of the Congressional Budget Office released a study on May 1 calling the proposals “complicated, challenging and potentially disruptive.” Responsibility for trillions of dollars in health-care costs would be shifted to the government, and as the New York Times reported in April, the “violent upheaval” entailed by Medicare-for-all would compel some hospitals, “especially struggling rural centers,” to close almost overnight, while others would respond by “laying off hundreds of thousands of workers.”
Championing a health-care policy that threatens to close rural hospitals and limit patients’ access to vital services is not a winning message.
Heitkamp joins a growing chorus of leading Democrats who have sounded alarm bells on Medicare for all in recent weeks. The Washington Post has reported that many Democratic leaders are worried by such proposals, which “require middle class tax hikes that will prove hurtful for economic growth and the party’s political fortunes.”
- President Barack Obama “warned a group of freshman House Democrats … about the costs associated with some liberal ideas popular in their ranks, encouraging members to look at price tags” in what was widely seen as “a cautionary note about Medicare-for-all,” The Washington Post reports.
- Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, has repeatedly made it clear she does not feel enthusiasm for scrapping our entire health care system – including the Affordable Care Act, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicare and Medicaid – and starting over from scratch with Medicare for all, saying: “All I want is the goal of every American having access to health care … You don’t get there by dismantling the Affordable Care Act,” and exclaiming to Rolling Stone: “And by the way, how’s it gonna be paid for?”
- Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairwoman Rep. Cheri Bustos said to The Hill recently that “the $33 trillion price tag for Medicare for all is a little scary,” adding “it’s just hard to conceive how that would work,” a sentiment she later doubled down on in an interview with CNN.
- The Washington Examiner notes that “Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee, also has drawn attention to the cost” of Medicare for all.
To read Senator Heitkamp’s full Washington Post op-ed, CLICK HERE.