12.13.19 / 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:

The second edition of Voter Vitals – a tracking poll conducted nationwide and in 2020 battleground states by Locust Street Group for the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future – finds “that health care continues to grow in importance as the defining issue of the 2020 presidential election.  However, as voters learn more about new government-run health care proposals, support for them is declining with a majority of voters preferring to build on and improve what we have today rather than start over with Medicare for All or the public option.”  The poll also finds that, “[t]wo-thirds of respondents also said they’re unwilling to pay any more in taxes for universal coverage,” POLITICO reports

“Americans are clear that they are not willing to pay any more in taxes or give up their current health care coverage in favor of new government-controlled health insurance systems.  Democratic, swing and Republican voters want policies that would lower costs and fix what we have today more than anything else,” said Phillip Morris, Partner of Locust Street Group.

The findings are in line with recent public polling, including a recent poll released by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), which finds “support for a public option is slipping,” as POLITICO reports.  The Kaiser poll also finds that Medicare for All “support wanes when voters hear trade-offs,” Becker’s Hospital Review adds.  KFF CEO Drew Altman wrote recently in Axios that support for Medicare for All is “headed in the wrong direction” – meaning down – while “polling shows that support drops much further, and opposition rises, when people hear some of the most common arguments against Medicare for All.”  The key takeaway:  “As voters learn more about this, they’re saying ‘no thanks,’” Yahoo! Finance’s Rick Newman said on MSNBC

Meanwhile, a new Gallup poll finds that “[s]ome 71% of Americans rate their private coverage as ‘excellent’ or ‘good,’” CNN reports.  “Americans continue to prefer a healthcare system based on private insurance (54%) over a government-run healthcare system (42%),” according to Gallup’s annual Health and Healthcare poll, which finds that a government-controlled health insurance system “remains the minority view in the U.S.  This could create a challenge in a general election campaign for a Democratic presidential nominee advocating a ‘Medicare for All’ or other healthcare plan that would greatly expand the government’s role in the healthcare system.”

A new analysis of census health coverage data found that “in eight politically significant counties in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania … 81.3% of those with insurance had private coverage,” the Washington Examiner reports.  A recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Cook Political Report finds that nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of swing voters in the states of Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin rate Medicare for All as a “bad idea.”

And, at Tuesday’s U.S. House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing on new government-controlled health insurance systems, experts highlighted the unaffordable costs and negative consequences American families would face under these proposed new one-size-fits-all systems – like Medicare for All, Medicare buy-in and the public option:

Dr. Scott Atlas, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University: “[Medicare for All] has been estimated to cost over $32 trillion in its first decade.  Doubling all currently projected federal individual and corporate income tax collections would be insufficient to finance the added federal costs of the plan … The truth is that single‐payer systems … impose shockingly long waiting times … And that failure to deliver timely medical care has serious consequences … The Public Option As A Pathway To SinglePayer … Government insurance expansions mainly erode, or “crowd out,” private insurance, rather than provide coverage to the uninsured … Premiums for private insurance will further skyrocket … public insurance pays less to providers … which results in even less access to medical care and even less choice of providers for patients.”

Dr. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President, American Action Forum: “[Public option] proposals appear mostly intended to serve as stepping stones to an eventual single-payer approach … Medicare for All would be one of the most disruptive policy undertakings in our nation’s history, both in terms of the health care system and the wider economic impacts … the costs of financing such a system would be substantial, and the incentives could well exacerbate rising health care costs … You will invariably sacrifice some quality and some access in exchange for government control and universal coverage … [U]nder a scenario where the government paid Medicare rates for all patients, hospitals would make fewer investments in quality … There will be trade-offs around quality of care and access to care of varying degrees, depending on the specifics of the proposal … [T]he cost of a Medicare for All, single-payer system would be high … Financing such a program would require substantial tax increases … most American households would pay more in new taxes than they would save by no longer paying for their health care.”

“Whether it’s called Medicare for All, Medicare Buy-in or the public option, a new government-controlled health insurance system would force Americans to pay more to wait longer for worse care,” Lauren Crawford Shaver, executive director of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future said in a statement.  Prior to the hearing, the Partnership issued a memo and sent a letter to the Committee, highlighting the consequences these proposals would have on taxpayers, consumers, patients and families.

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