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:

As 2020 presidential hopefuls continue to face tough questions about their support for new government-controlled health insurance systems, POLITICO reports this week on the “growing opposition to ‘Medicare for All’” as two new polls – one national and another taken in the critical early Democratic caucus state of Iowa – show declining support for the one-size-fits-all government-run system.  They report:

“MEDICARE FOR ALL” CONTINUES TO LOSE LUSTER – That’s according to a WSJ/NBC News poll released Sunday, which found growing opposition to [Senator Bernie] Sanders’ signature idea to replace private insurance with a government-run health system.  Fifty-six percent of registered voters say they oppose a Medicare for All plan that replaces private insurance, up from 49 percent in a July version of the poll … Iowa voters cooler on Medicare for All, too.  A new Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers found that just 41 percent said a government-run health system should be national policy. Meanwhile, 28 percent of respondents feared it could cost Democrats the election, and 24 percent said it was bad policy.

The new surveys come on the heels of yet another national poll released this month by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which finds that “[m]ost Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (55%) say they prefer a candidate who would build on the Affordable Care Act to achieve those goals.  Fewer (40%) prefer a candidate who would replace the ACA with a Medicare-for-all plan.”  A separate poll released by Kaiser in July found support for Medicare for all 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.

Another new poll out this week from the Commonwealth Fund finds that “[m]any voters are confused by single-payer proposals,” POLITICO reports“’People are really confused about what it might mean for them, for the health system, and in terms of tradeoffs,’ Commonwealth’s Sara Collins said, noting that Democrats’ public option proposals are likely confusing voters too.”  The American public’s confusion over one-size-fits-all proposals such as Medicare for all is not surprising.  “Such a sweeping overhaul of the country’s patchwork health insurance system hasn’t been attempted before,” The Washington Post noted recently, “and even though the 2020 contenders frequently mention it, they tend to shy away from details on exactly how the whole thing would work.”

This helps explain why key Democratic voices continue to warn about Medicare for all, and why some candidates continue to obfuscate when it comes to the unaffordable costs and higher taxes American families would be forced to pay under a new government-controlled health insurance system.  For example, on the debate stage earlier this month, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) used misleading numbers to “imply that his plan would reduce health-care spending from $50 trillion over 10 years to $30 trillion, even though most studies predict spending will increase,” as fact checkers from The Washington Post confirm“All but one of five major studies, from the left to the right, predict the Sanders plan would increase health spending, not reduce it.”

Meanwhile, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) continues to avoid questions about the higher taxes Americans would need to pay under Medicare for all.  ABC News reports that Warren has refused to say “whether or not the middle-class would see a tax hike” under her new government-controlled health care system.  And this isn’t the first time Warren has avoided answering this question.  “At each of the last two debates, Warren has been pressed on this and declined to directly answer,” The Washington Post reports.  In the past, Warren has said that she would pay for Medicare for all through taxes on the wealthy and corporations.  But as James Freeman points out in the Wall Street Journal“[e]ven if one believes the Warren math, she’s more than $28 trillion short.”
 
The fact is, “[t]here’s no possible way to finance [Medicare for all] without big middle class tax increases,” as Marc Goldwein of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) explained to The Washington Post.

To better educate Americans on what a new one-size-fits-all government-controlled health care system would mean for them, the Partnership rolled out a new explainer highlighting some key facts to keep in mind:

When politicians say “Medicare for all,” they are talking about a one-size-fits-all system that would:
  • Slam working families with unaffordable tax hikes.
  • Subject Americans to longer wait times and a lower quality of care.
  • Take away the choice and control Americans enjoy under our current system, where market-based coverage and government programs work together to cover roughly 90 percent of Americans.
  • Push everyone off their current plan, into a single, government-controlled health insurance system run by politicians.

And, as some try to paint the public option as a “moderate” alternative to Medicare for all, 2020 presidential hopefuls and others have acknowledged it would ultimately lead down the same path to a one-size-fits-all system, with all the same unaffordable costs.  In a story headlined “How a Medicare Buy-In or Public Option Could Threaten Obamacare,” The New York Times reported recently that the public option “could also lead to a 10 percent increase in premiums for the remaining pool of insured people.”

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