June 7, 2019 | Updates

The Weekly Scan: Key Stories In The Debate On America’s Health Care Future

Good Friday afternoon, and welcome to the Weekly Scan.  Here are some of the key stories you may have missed in the debate on America’s health care future:

In advance of next week’s hearing in the House Committee on Ways and Means, proponents of Medicare for all, including U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), continue to falsely claim that a majority of Americans agree with them – but news reports lay bare the reality: a loss of momentum behind their quest to implement a one-size-fits-all government-run system.

  • Assessing the extent to which Sanders’s agenda is “stalled,” The Washington Post points out that Medicare for all “has attracted fewer co-sponsors in Congress than two years ago.”  In New York Magazine, Eric Levitz sheds some light on why, writing that “[a] recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 56 percent of Americans favored Medicare for All — until they were told the policy would ‘require most Americans to pay more in taxes,’ at which point support plummeted to 37 percent.  The credibility of this finding is buttressed by the failure of movements for single-payer health care in Vermont and Colorado, where aversion to tax increases fueled opposition.”
  • And while pointing out Sanders’s “misleading” rhetoric, fact-checkers for The Washington Post noted this week 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.”  The Post’s fact checkers also noted that “providers warn [Medicare for all] could significantly hurt their ability to provide adequate, widespread care.’”

In an op-ed for The Hill, Lauren Crawford Shaver of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future also examines how pro-Medicare for all rhetoric is “misleading at best,” and discusses how – as Medicare for all legislation falters in Congress – so-called “moderate” fallbacks like “buy-in” or “public option” are actually government-run insurance systems that ultimately lead to the same one-size-fits-all government-run systems Americans oppose.  She writes:

Assessing the bill’s prospects, Bloomberg reported that Medicare for All “is hitting serious obstacles in the U.S. House … [and] the effort appears unlikely to go much further,” as the legislation “hasn’t gained much support since its release in February,” while POLITICO reported that “House Democratic leaders, who worry Medicare for All could hurt the party with moderate voters, have allowed hearings on the plan, but they haven’t committed to floor votes.”  That’s good news for patients, families and taxpayers, but Americans should be aware that other, so-called “moderate” proposals — like “buy-in” or “public option” systems — would also cost taxpayers’ hard-earned money, put families’ access to and quality of care at risk, and ultimately lead to the same unaffordable one-size-fits-all system they reject.  These new government-run insurance systems are intentionally designed to be “stepping stones” to one-size-fits-all health care — a fact acknowledged even by those in favor of such proposals, including one U.S. Senator who admitted it would cause the “slow death” of employer-provided and other private coverage and serve as an “on ramp to a single-payer system.” 

And, as some states consider implementing similar government insurance systems, Modern Healthcare reports that even supporters of such schemes and health policy experts acknowledge that a one-size-fits-all government-run system is the end goal:

Opponents warn that state public-option proposals are just a way station on the path to a federal single-payer system, which advocates don’t necessarily deny.  “There’s no question the endgame is single-payer,” said Dr. Roger Stark, a health policy analyst at the conservative Washington Policy Center in Seattle.



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