October 1, 2019 | Updates

Medicare For All: Raising Taxes On Americans Making $29,000 Per Year

WASHINGTON – As polls continue to show growing opposition to Medicare for all, the proposal’s supporters are once again being confronted by the unaffordable costs of their one-size-fits-all government-controlled health care system, as U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the author of Medicare for all legislation, acknowledged last week that Americans making more than $29,000 per year would “pay more in taxes” for Medicare for all.

  • How do other supporters of Medicare for all – including 2020 presidential hopefuls and Members of Congress – explain their support for raising taxes on working Americans making less than $30,000 a year?

A national poll taken earlier this year by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that 60 percent oppose Medicare for all when they learn it would require most Americans to pay higher taxes.  And Voter Vitals – a new 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.  “A majority of Democratic, swing, and Republican voters are clear that they are not willing to pay any more in taxes for universal coverage.  They’re looking for health care policies that lower rising health care costs more than anything else,” said Phillip Morris, Partner of Locust Street Group, who conducted the survey on behalf of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future.

And while Sanders continues to claim that “the overwhelming majority of the American people will be paying less” under his one-size-fits-all government-controlled health insurance system, Bloomberg reports that “[f]or many Americans, though, that would not be true,” and “higher taxes would exceed any savings … [T]he 181 million taxpayers with employer-sponsored coverage could miss out on the benefits of the Sanders plan, and even those receiving Medicaid could pay more, according to health-care policy experts on both sides of the political spectrum … 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.”

Fact-checkers for The Washington Post note that “[a]ccording to a study from the Urban Institute (and a follow-up paper), Medicare-for-all would still add $32.6 trillion to national health spending over 10 years.”  And CNN reports that “[t]ax experts … say that you can’t raise enough money from taxing the rich and that the levies on all Americans may exceed the savings for more people than Sanders expects.  This may be particularly true of low-income folks who get heavily subsidized coverage on the Obamacare exchanges.”

“There’s no possible way to finance [Medicare for all] without big middle class tax increases,” as Marc Goldwein of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) explained to The Washington Post.

On the presidential debate stage earlier this month, Sanders also used misleading numbers to “imply that his plan would reduce health-care spending from $50 trillion over 10 years to $30 trillion, even though most studies predict spending will increase,” fact checkers from The Washington Post, who rated Sanders’s rhetoric “mostly false,” confirm, noting: “All but one of five major studies, from the left to the right, predict the Sanders plan would increase health spending, not reduce it.”

Meanwhile, other supporters of Medicare for all, such as Sanders’s fellow 2020 hopeful Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), have gone out of their way to avoid acknowledging the higher taxes Americans would need to pay under Medicare for all.  ABC News reports that Warren has refused to say “whether or not the middle-class would see a tax hike” under the new government-controlled health care system she proposes.  “At each of the last two debates, Warren has been pressed on this and declined to directly answer,” The Washington Post reports.  Warren has said that she would pay for Medicare for all through taxes on the wealthy and corporations.  But as James Freeman points out in the Wall Street Journal“[e]ven if one believes the Warren math, she’s more than $28 trillion short.”

Americans, however, are catching on: “There’s one thing Americans understand about Medicare-for-all: It would mean higher taxes … Americans seem most familiar with the fact that Medicare-for-all would require massively higher taxes,” The Washington Post reports of a national poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation in June.  As Kaiser writes of their findings, “eight in 10 Americans (78%) are aware that taxes would increase for most people under such a plan.”  



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