7.31.19 / Press Releases

Partnership Statement On Tonight’s Presidential Debate

WASHINGTON – The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future issued the following statement regarding tonight’s Democratic presidential debate:

“Tonight’s presidential debate made it abundantly clear that – whether it is called Medicare for all, Medicare buy-in or the public option – Americans would have to pay more and wait longer for worse health care,” said Lauren Crawford Shaver, the Partnership’s executive director.  “With 90 percent of Americans now covered and the majority satisfied with their coverage and care, we ought to be building on that progress – not throwing it away for an unaffordable one-size-fits-all, government-run insurance system.”

new national poll released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that support for Medicare for all is on the decline, as “a larger share of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents would prefer lawmakers build on the existing ACA” and “the share of Democrats who now say they ‘strongly favor’ a national Medicare-for-all plan is down” 12 percentage points in the three months since Kaiser last asked the question.  And as candidates promote plans that would eliminate Americans’ existing health coverage, the poll notably finds that 86 percent of adults with employer-provided coverage rate their coverage as “good” or “excellent.”
 
And a poll released by the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future this week reveals that voters prioritize improving our current health care system over offering a new government insurance system, often referred to as the “public option.”  Voters across party lines prefer a presidential candidate focused on making those improvements over one who wants to expand government insurance systems, and majorities also “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.

Medicare For All Means Higher Costs & Unaffordable Tax Hikes:

Proponents of Medicare for all routinely claim that under their government-run system will save Americans money.  But, as Bloomberg reports, “[f]or many Americans, though, that would not be true,” and “higher taxes would exceed any savings.”

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 [Sen. Bernie] Sanders expects.  This may be particularly true of low-income folks who get heavily subsidized coverage on the Obamacare exchanges … ‘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.’”  That place is the bank accounts of middle-class Americans: “There’s no possible way to finance [Medicare for all] without big middle class tax increases,” CRFB’s Goldwein explained to The Washington Post.

While many are just beginning to learn how a one-size-fits-all system would affect their health care, most Americans are well aware of the unaffordable 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 of a recent national poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.  As Kaiser writes of their findings, “eight in 10 Americans (78%) are aware that taxes would increase for most people under such a plan.”  
 
And while Sanders insists that “a lot of people in the country would be delighted to pay more in taxes” to bankroll his one-size-fits-all health care system, 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.

Medicare For All Means Diminished Access To Quality Care:

It is telling that, appearing on CNN last week, Senator Bernie Sanders “repeatedly dodged the question of whether Americans would be able to keep their doctor under his Medicare for All plan,” and The Washington Post’s fact-checkers note that “providers warn [Medicare for all] could significantly hurt their ability to provide adequate, widespread care.  A recent report from the Congressional Budget Office reinforces this concern: ‘Such a reduction in provider payment rates would probably reduce the amount of care supplied and could also reduce the quality of care.’”

The non-partisan CBO cautioned recently that under Medicare for All, “patients might face increased wait times and reduced access to care,” and such a system “could also reduce the quality of care,” while “[t]he 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.”

The New York Times reported recently that experts are growing increasingly worried about the “violent upheaval” a Medicare for all system would cause hospitals, cautioning: “Some hospitals, especially struggling rural centers, would close virtually overnight, according to policy experts.  Others, they say, would try to offset the steep cuts by laying off hundreds of thousands of workers and abandoning lower-paying services like mental health.”

This warning was echoed in a report by POLITICO, which notes that Medicare for all “would all but end private insurance and regulate hospitals in a vastly different way, dramatically changing operators’ business model and costing community hospitals as much as $151 billion a year, according to one estimate published in JAMA,” all while “slashing hospitals’ pay rates and putting up to 1.5 million jobs at stake … It’s a concern that’s left Medicare for All advocates walking a fine line, arguing for a dramatic reshaping of the health system while trying to avoid a brawl with their hometown health systems.”

So-Called “Moderate” Fallbacks Will Lead To The Same Results:

And while often described as more “moderate” than Medicare for all, 2020 presidential hopefuls and others acknowledge that new government insurance systems such as Medicare “buy-in” or the “public option” would ultimately lead down the same path to a one-size-fits-all government-run health care system – with all the same unaffordable costs, tax increases, and threats to patients’ choices, access and quality of care.

Meanwhile, in a story headlined “How a Medicare Buy-In or Public Option Could Threaten Obamacare,” The New York Times reports this week that “a public option may well threaten the A.C.A. in unexpected ways.”

A government plan, even a Medicare buy-in, could shrink the number of customers buying policies on the Obamacare markets, making them less appealing for leading insurers, according to many health insurers, policy analysts and even some Democrats … [A] buy-in shift in insurance coverage could profoundly unsettle the nation’s private health sector, which makes up almost a fifth of the United States economy.  Depending on who is allowed to sign up for the plan, it could also rock the employer-based system that now covers some 160 million Americans … Siphoning off such a large group of customers could also lead to a 10 percent increase in premiums for the remaining pool of insured people, according to the Blue Cross analysis.  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.

In addition to its substantial risks to consumers and taxpayers, research also warns of the risks to hospitals and patients posed by so-called “moderate” fallback proposals like the “public option.”  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 new government insurance systems like “Medicare buy-in” or “public option” could force hospitals to limit the care they provide, produce significant “layoffs” and “potentially force the closure” of some hospitals.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports this week that “[g]overnment surveys show that about 90% of the population has coverage, largely preserving gains from President Barack Obama’s years.  Independent experts estimate that more than one-half of the roughly 30 million uninsured people in the country are eligible for health insurance through existing programs.

And public opinion research consistently shows that most Americans are satisfied with the coverage and care they receive, with eight in 10 Americans – including 86 percent of those with employer-provided coverage – rating their coverage as “good” or “excellent,” according to a new national poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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