11.2.19 / 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:

“No matter what any candidate claims, the unaffordable costs of Medicare for All mean working families would have to pay higher taxes,” said Lauren Crawford Shaver, executive director of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future in response to an unaffordable plan for a one-size-fits-all government-controlled health insurance system released by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) this morning.  “This has been confirmed not only by economists, but by the bill’s own author, who acknowledges that its tax hikes would need to hit Americans making as little as $29,000 a year.  And Senator Warren’s own plan would slam American workers with nearly $9 trillion in new taxes,” Shaver continued.

The plan comes after a new analysis out this week from the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) outlines “ways to pay for Medicare-for-all, an issue that’s recently been a central question during Democratic debates,” The Washington Post reports.  Earlier this week, the bill’s author, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), announced that he won’t release a plan to pay for the new one-size-fits-all government-controlled health insurance system.

CRFB’s analysis warns that Medicare for All “would require aggressive changes in taxes, spending or borrowing,” adding that “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,” CRFB’s Marc Goldwein told POLITICO.

  • Some of the unaffordable tax increases the group found could finance Medicare for All “included a 32 percent payroll tax, a 25 percent surtax on income above the standard-deduction amount, a 42 percent value-added tax, mandatory premiums averaging $7,500 per capita, and more than doubling all individual and corporate tax rates.  The group estimated that Medicare for All could not be fully financed just by raising taxes on the wealthy,” The Hill notes.  “These policies would have massive economic impacts, reverberating far beyond health care,” Axios adds.

These unaffordable costs help explain why “some Democratic lawmakers key to holding the House majority worry that the health-care pledges [of presidential candidates pushing Medicare for All] … could hurt their re-election chances,” The Wall Street Journal reports

… Democrats won back the House in the 2018 midterm elections with a message focused on saving Obamacare … House Democrats and candidates fighting to win competitive seats say health care is the top concern of voters, but that a Democratic presidential nominee who backs Medicare for All could create headaches … Kristen Hawn, a strategist who works with moderate Democrats, said candidates in competitive districts could lose if the health-care conversation is focused on Medicare for All.  “Making this election about whether you support Medicare for All is very damaging up and down the ballot,” said Ms. Hawn.

… The majority of Democrats who won GOP-held seats last year haven’t signed on to the Medicare-for-All legislation in the House.  Rep. Ben McAdams, a Utah Democrat who won a GOP-held seat last year, says the policy“would maybe cause more challenges than it solves.”  Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria, who beat a GOP incumbent last year, said she recently voiced her opposition for Medicare for All in a town hall meeting in her coastal Virginia district.  She received a standing ovation.

And while other candidates and lawmakers incorrectly claim that proposals like Medicare for America, Medicare buy-in and the public option are “moderate” alternatives to Medicare for All, Lauren Crawford Shaver, executive director of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, explains why that’s not the case.  In a new op-ed for RealClearHealth, Crawford Shaver highlights a recent study by KNG Consulting, LLC, which provides the latest reminder that these proposals “would reduce Americans’ health care choices by forcing more and more families into the same one-size-fits-all government-controlled health insurance system.”  She writes:

The study … finds that one such proposal, called “Medicare for America,” could force one-third of American workers off of their current employer provided health care coverage, also known as employer sponsored insurance (ESI), by 2032.  The study warns that by 2023, “nearly one of every four workers who were previously offered ESI would lose access to ESI via their employer, with offer rates falling from 88 to 68 percent … This increases to about one of every three workers losing access to ESI through their employer by 2032.”

… Not only would a new government-controlled system reduce Americans’ health care choices, it would also burden individuals and our economy with new unaffordable costs and risks.  Our new study finds that instead of addressing rising health care costs, it “would increase total health care spending, with the largest spending increases occurring among those who already had public coverage through Medicare or Medicaid.”  Experts have noted that such a plan “could prove costly” for American families.

… Like Medicare-for-All, public option-style proposals would lead patients to pay more and wait longer for worse care.  Instead of forcing all Americans into a one-size-fits-all system – whether overnight or over time – lawmakers should focus on improving what have by building on what’s working and fixing what isn’t.

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