11.26.19 / Updates

POLITICO: Economists Warn Medicare For All Could Threaten Jobs & Restrict Access To Care

WASHINGTON – In a new series examining the future of health care in America, POLITICO reports that research warns Medicare for All would cause millions of American health care workers’ jobs to “evaporate,” and the new one-size-fits-all government-controlled health insurance system could also restrict access to care.” 

In a story entitled, “Medicare for All’s jobs problem,” POLITICO reports that according to the University of Massachusetts Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), “1.8 million health care jobs nationwide would no longer be needed if Medicare for All became law, upending health insurance companies and thousands of middle class workers whose jobs largely deal with them, including insurance brokers, medical billing workers and other administrative employees.” 

POLITICO also reports that, in addition to costing hard-working Americans their jobs, economists warn that Medicare for All could threaten patients’ access to care:

  • Kate Baicker, Dean Of The University Of Chicago Harris School Of Public Policy: “I’m not sure that we can lower overall health spending without restricting access to care in ways that people might not like, such as through denying coverage, or even shortages caused by cutting back on reimbursement rates … it’s unrealistic to hope that we can insure more people but spend less on health care overall without substantially cutting back on payments or restricting services, both of which would restrict access to care for the insured.” (Jason Millman, “Would ‘Medicare for All’ Really Save Money?” POLITICO, 11/25/19)
  • Hannah Neprash, Assistant Professor At University Of Minnesota School Of Public Health: “… [Medicare for All] M4A would need to dramatically reduce the price we pay for care, in order to rein in spending.  That’s not out of the question … But it could raise concerns about access to care.” (Jason Millman, “Would ‘Medicare for All’ Really Save Money?” POLITICO, 11/25/19)
  • Brian Blase, Visiting Fellow At The Heritage Foundation: A single-payer program would likely lead to more wasteful health care expenditures, since it would further reduce market signals about what is valuable and what is not.” (Jason Millman, “Would ‘Medicare for All’ Really Save Money?” POLITICO, 11/25/19)

report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO)“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 Washington Post reports.

Meanwhile, studies and economists agree that Medicare for All would force Americans to pay more.

Medicare for All “would cost more than $50 trillion over 10 years,” Yahoo! Finance reports, whileRonald Brownstein of The Atlantic notes that the new government-controlled system would cost “more than the federal government will spend over the coming decade on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid combined.”

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) finds that “fully offsetting the cost would require higher taxes on the middle class,” and would “require the equivalent of tripling payroll taxes or more than doubling all other taxes.”  

  • The bill’s author, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), acknowledged that Americans making more than $29,000 per year would “pay more in taxes” for Medicare for all.
  • Economists agree that proposed funding mechanisms like the $9 trillion tax on employers, “will get passed onto workers through reduced wages,” Axios reports.  The Washington Post adds that “[b]asic economic theory holds that such payments are essentially a tax on employees because it comes out of compensation.”  “[P]ayroll costs of this sort are essentially middle-class taxes on employees.  Fixing per-employee business costs at some future date would also be an incentive for companies to reduce their coverage now to reduce future costs.  So employees would get worse coverage than they have now,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
  • Medicare for All “would require aggressive changes in taxes, spending or borrowing,” and “the middle class would be forced to shoulder some of the burden,” Axios reports.  
  • “No matter how you cut the numbers, there is absolutely no way to pay for Medicare for all without tax increases – or spending cuts – on the middle class,” Marc Goldwein of CRFB told POLITICO.  “There’s no question it hits the middle class,” Kenneth Thorpe, Chairman of the Health Policy and Management Department, Emory University told The Washington Post.
  • “Although [Medicare for All’s supporters] have frequently stressed that the middle class would see overall costs go downa wide range of experts … say it is impossible to make those guarantees based on the plans that the candidates have outlined so far … ‘It’s impossible to have an ‘everybody wins’ scenario here,’ said Kenneth Thorpe, chairman of the health policy department at Emory University … ‘There’s no question it hits the middle class,’ he added.  John Holahan, a health policy expert at the nonpartisan Urban Institute agreed: ‘Even though high-income people are going to pay a lot more, this has to hit the middle class.’… ‘Most of the proposals to move to Medicare-for-all would involve substantial tax increases that would affect most people,’ said Katherine Baicker, an economist at the University of Chicago who specializes in health policy.  ‘These are going to be big tax increases.’ … ‘I think it seems likely under most proposals taxes would have to go up substantially unless you dramatically cut the health care you’re getting,’ she added.” (Matt Viser & Sean Sullivan, “Will Medicare-For-All Hurt The Middle Class? Elizabeth Warren And Bernie Sanders Struggle With Questions About Its Impact.” The Washington Post, 10/5/19)

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