June 26, 2019 | Updates

Medicare For All’s Costs & Tax Hikes To Take Center Stage At First DNC Debates

WASHINGTON – As the field of Democratic presidential contenders takes the debate stage over two consecutive nights this week, the high costs and inevitable middle-class tax hikes of a one-size-fits-all health care system will once again be in the spotlight.  As The New York Times reported over the weekend, such a system “would not come cheaply.”

Asked how they would pay for their preferred plan, many called for higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy, starting with a repeal of the 2017 Republican tax cuts.  The two biggest champions of single-payer Medicare for All, Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren, almost completely sidestepped the financing question; Mr. Sanders maintained that by wringing out of the system premiums, co-payments and the profits of the private insurance industry, his plan “would actually end up saving the American people trillions of dollars.”

However, while calling out Senator Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) “misleading” rhetoric, fact-checkers for The Washington Post wrote recently 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.  The study goes on to state that Sanders’s proposed tax increase would be insufficient and that additional revenue would be needed.”

And CNN reports that “[t]ax experts, however, 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 … Sanders hasn’t provided a comprehensive analysis of how much the plan … will cost or how he will pay for it … ‘His plan still doesn’t add up,’ [Marc] Goldwein [of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB)] said … ‘To generate the kind of revenue that Sanders is talking about to pay for something as big as his version of Medicare for All … would be vastly more expensive than any of the kinds of things he’s talking about,’ said Howard Gleckman, senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank. ‘He’s going to have to come up with more money from some place.’”

“There’s no possible way to finance [Medicare for all] without big middle class tax increases,” CRFB’s Marc Goldwein explained recently to The Washington Post.

And while many Americans are just beginning to learn how a one-size-fits-all health care system would affect them, most are already aware of the high costs and massive tax hikes they’d be hit with.  “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.  As the Kaiser Family Foundation notes of their recent national poll, “eight in 10 Americans (78%) are aware that taxes would increase for most people under such a plan.”  A previous national poll by Kaiser revealed that 60 percent oppose Medicare for all when they learn it would require most Americans to pay higher taxes.

ABC News reported over the weekend that “health care experts have cautioned against [Medicare for all], which some estimates say could cost the federal government $32 trillion over 10 years.”  And, as the push for Medicare for all “falters,” some elected officials and candidates are turning to so-called “moderate” fallback proposals – new government insurance systems often branded “public option” or “Medicare buy-in.” 

However, recent studies offer dire warnings about the ways these new government insurance systems would harm providers and patients.  One study found that “[f]or hospitals, the introduction of a public plan that reimburses providers using Medicare rates would compound financial stresses they are already facing, potentially impacting access to care and provider quality.”  Another study found that government insurance systems such as “buy-in” or “public option” could force hospitals to limit the care they provide, produce significant “layoffs” and “potentially force the closure of essential hospitals.”

And ultimately, these proposed government insurance programs would lead to the same result as Medicare for all: a one-size-fits-all health care system run by Washington that will force Americans to pay more to wait longer for worse care.



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