September 19, 2019 | Press Releases

Partnership Statement On Latest One-Size-Fits-All Government-Controlled Health Insurance System

WASHINGTON – The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future issued the following statement regarding the latest push for a new government-run health insurance system by a 2020 presidential candidate.

“We strongly believe that every American deserves access to quality, affordable health care and that it is possible to achieve this without eliminating the choice and control Americans currently enjoy through employer provided and other private coverage.  The fact is, a new government-controlled health insurance system – whether it’s called the public option, Medicare buy-in, or ‘Medicare for all who want it’ – would ultimately lead to a one-size-fits-all system that would cause Americans to pay more and wait longer for worse care,” said Lauren Crawford Shaver, the Partnership’s executive director.  “These proposals are not ‘moderate’ alternatives to Medicare for all, as some would claim, and would put too much control over Americans’ health care in the hands of politicians.  With about 90 percent of Americans covered today and the majority satisfied with their current health care, our nation’s leaders should instead focus on solutions that improve and build upon what’s working and fix what isn’t.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that new government health insurance systems like the public option represent “stepping stones to single payer.”  This fact has been acknowledged by journalists, analysts and Democratic presidential candidates, including presidential hopeful Mayor Pete Buttigieg who emphasized during the first round of debates that a “buy-in” or “public option” system “will be a very natural glide path to the single payer environment.”

  • “Medicare for all is what we should be going for, but the first step getting there has to be showing that we can create a public option, or allowing Medicare to be available for more people,” Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) said to CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”
  • During the first round of presidential debates, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said“The truth is, if you have a buy-in over a four or five year period, you move us to single payer more quickly,” adding that under such a system, “our step to single payer is so short.”  
  • NBC News reporter Jonathan Allen explained to viewers that “[t]he public option is essentially a back door to Medicare for all.  You can say all day long if you want it’s not Medicare for all.  But this is a different packaging of how to get there.”
  • Public option proponent, Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) recently admitted it would bring about the “slow death” of employer-provided and other private coverage and serve as an “on ramp to a single-payer system.”

Meanwhile, as Dr. Scott Atlas of Stanford University explains in The Wall Street Journalsuch a system would raise costs for families and “mainly erode, or ‘crowd out,’ private insurance, rather than provide coverage to the uninsured.”  He writes:

The public option would cause premiums for private insurance to skyrocket because of underpayment by government insurance compared with costs for services … A single-payer option is not a moderate, compromise proposal.  Its inevitable consequence is the death of affordable private insurance.  Even Democratic presidential candidates calling for “a public option” openly admitted in the recent debate that it would inevitably lead to a single-payer-dominated system … Massive taxation would be needed to expand Medicare, whether optionally or not.

And in a story headlined “How a Medicare Buy-In or Public Option Could Threaten Obamacare,” The New York Times reports that the public option “could also lead to a 10 percent increase in premiums for the remaining pool of insured people.”  The Times adds:

More younger people with expensive medical conditions have enrolled than insurers expected, and insurers would have to increase premiums to cover their costs, Mr. Haltmeyer said.  Tricia Neuman, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, which studies insurance markets, said a government buy-in that attracted older Americans could indeed raise premiums for those who remained in the A.C.A. markets, especially if those consumers had high medical costs … Dr. David Blumenthal, the president of the Commonwealth Fund, a foundation that funds health care research, said a government plan that attracted people with expensive conditions could prove costly. “You might, as a taxpayer, become concerned that they would be more like high-risk pools,” he said.

study by KNG Consulting 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,” while an earlier study by Navigant 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.”
flash poll conducted by Forbes Tate Partners on behalf of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future reveals that voters prioritize improving our current health care system over offering a new government insurance system, often referred to as the “public option.”

  • The poll also finds that voters across party lines prefer a presidential candidate focused on making those improvements over one who wants to expand government insurance systems, and majorities “believe that negative outcomes, such as increased taxes and fewer employer-based options, are more likely to occur than positive ones if a government health care program that people could choose were put into place – and most believe it would be unlikely to improve their health care or that of their family.”

And Voter Vitals – a new quarterly tracking poll conducted nationwide and in 2020 battleground states – finds that “a clear majority of voters nationwide are primed to reject new government-run systems that will cost voters more to expand coverage like Medicare for All, the public option, and Medicare buy-in.  Most voters want candidates to lower costs, build on what’s working and fix what’s broken – not start over.”



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