5.22.19 / Press Releases

Partnership Statement On Budget Committee Hearing On Medicare For All

WASHINGTON – The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future issued the following statement regarding today’s hearing in the U.S. House Committee on the Budget on enacting a one-size-fits all government-run health care system, also known as “Medicare for all,” which would cost families trillions, diminish the quality of care, and eliminate patient choice, while placing decisions in the hands of Washington bureaucrats:

“While more can and should be done towards our goal of making quality care accessible to all, scrapping every American’s existing health coverage for a one-size-fits-all government-run system would be a disaster for patients, families and taxpayers,” said Lauren Crawford Shaver, the Partnership’s executive director.  “A Medicare for all system would do away with the foundations of American health care – including the Affordable Care Act, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicare and Medicaid – and leave Americans with no choice other than a one-size-fit-all system run by Washington.

“As the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office recently warned, under such a system, Americans’ access to quality health care would be threatened, and patients could face longer wait times, less access to care, a shortage of medical professionals like doctors and nurses, and even hospital closures.  Not only that, a Medicare for all system would also cost American families trillions of dollars in higher taxes.

“And while so-called ‘buy-in’ or ‘public option’ schemes have been floated as a more ‘moderate’ alternative to Medicare for all, it is critical for Americans to understand that these new government insurance systems would expand at-risk public programs and are designed to be a slippery slope to a one-size-fits-all system run by the government that takes away consumers’ choices, threatens patients’ access to quality care and passes unaffordable costs on to taxpayers.

“With roughly 90 percent of Americans now covered and a majority satisfied with their current health care, our leaders should be pursuing practical, constructive solutions to expand access and bring costs under control using the powerful tools already at their disposal – not forcing each and every American into a one-size-fits-all system that would take away their choices, put their health care decisions in the hands of Washington bureaucrats, diminish their quality of care and increase costs.  We need to focus on improving and building upon what works in American health care, while coming together to fix what doesn’t.”

KEY POINTS FROM THE CBO’S REPORT:  

  • “… [T]he way the system was implemented could cause substantial uncertainty for all participants. That uncertainty could arise from political and budgetary processes, for example, or from the responses of other participants in the system.”
  • “The transition toward a single-payer system could be complicated, challenging, and potentially disruptive.”
  • “Government spending on health care would increase substantially under a single-payer system…”
  • “…[W]ould significantly increase government spending and require substantial additional government resources.”
     
  • “An expansion of insurance coverage under a single-payer system would increase the demand for care and put pressure on the available supply of care … If the number of providers was not sufficient to meet demand, patients might face increased wait times and reduced access to care.”
  • “Because the public plan would provide a specified set of health care services to everyone eligible, participants would not have a choice of insurer or health benefits.  Compared with the options available under the current system, the benefits provided by the public plan might not address the needs of some people.”
  • “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.”
  • “Decisions about which new treatments and technologies would be covered would have a significant effect on patients’ access to those innovations, as well as on the development of new treatments and technologies over time and the costs of the single-payer system.”
  • “Setting payment rates equal to Medicare FFS rates under a single-payer system would reduce the average payment rates most providers receive—often substantially. Such a reduction in provider payment rates would probably reduce the amount of care supplied and could also reduce the quality of care.”
  • “In addition to the short-term effects discussed above, changes in provider payment rates under the single-payer system could have longer-term effects on the supply of providers.  If the average provider payment rate under a single-payer system was significantly lower than it currently is, fewer people might decide to enter the medical profession in the future.  The number of hospitals and other health care facilities might also decline as a result of closures, and there might be less investment in new and existing facilities.  That decline could lead to 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.”
  • “Although such techniques could contain costs, increasing financial pressure for providers to lower their costs could adversely affect access to and quality of care by causing providers to supply less care to patients covered by the public plan.  Less spending on medical services could also alter manufacturers’ incentive to develop new technologies or providers’ incentive to invest in capital, which could affect patients’ choices over the longer term.”
  • “Because health care spending in the United States currently accounts for about one-sixth of the nation’s gross domestic product, those changes could significantly affect the overall U.S. economy.”
  • “Taxes that could finance a single-payer system include income taxes (both individual and corporate), payroll taxes, and consumption taxes, all of which have different implications for the progressivity of the financing system.  A system financed by debt might require additional taxes in the future.  The choice for policymakers between imposing taxes today versus boosting them in the future would shift the responsibility among different generations of taxpayers.  The choice of tax structure would also have different implications for the labor supply and people’s consumption of goods and services, which would affect the overall economy.”

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