1.31.20 / 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 unaffordable costs, tax increases and negative economic consequences of proposed one-size-fits-all new government health insurance systems – such as Medicare for All, Medicare buy-in and the public option – continue to make headlines, as a new analysis from Penn Wharton reveals that Medicare for All “could decimate the economy,” the Washington Examiner reports.  According to the new analysis, Medicare for All “could reduce commerce by as much as a quarter over time,” and could “reduce gross domestic product by 24% by 2060,” the Examiner adds. 

Appearing on the CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) declined to directly address the unaffordable costs and substantial job losses associated with his proposed one-size-fits-all government health insurance system.  “Nobody knows,” Sanders claimed. “This is impossible to predict.”

  • But in addition to the Penn analysis, a growing body of research shows “that federal spending on health care would increase by roughly $34 trillion under a single-payer plan similar to Medicare for All,” CNN reports.  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.”  Senator Sanders previously acknowledged that Americans making more than $29,000 per year would “pay more in taxes” for Medicare for All.

And, while some candidates try to paint new government-controlled health insurance systems namely the public option and Medicare buy-in as “moderate” alternatives to Medicare for All, a new study by Tom Church, Daniel L. Heil, and Lanhee J. Chen, Ph.D. of the Hoover Institution with support from the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future reveals that in reality these proposals would ultimately lead to the same unaffordable costs and harmful consequences.

  • Appearing on Bloomberg’sBalance of Power” Wednesday, Chen explained that “[f]or those who see the public option as more moderate, this study is a warning sign that it may not be what they thought it was.”  And in a recent op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, the authors note that the public option “would require tax hikes on most Americans, including middle-income families,” and “would increase the federal deficit dramatically and destabilize the market for private health insurance, threatening health-care quality and choice.” 

The study reveals that the public option “could require tax increases on most Americans, including middle-income families” and could “add over $700 billion to the 10-year federal deficit, with dramatically larger losses in subsequent years.”  The study also finds:

  • A politically realistic public option could lead to a new 4.8 percent payroll tax on American families over 30 years – far higher than the combined Medicare payroll tax Americans pay today.
  • Over 30 years, the public option would become the third most expensive government program behind only Medicare and Social Security – both of which are at risk for the seniors who rely on them.
  • While proponents try to claim the public option could reduce costs by reimbursing providers at Medicare rates, recent history at both the federal and state levels demonstrates that putting politicians in charge of a new government-controlled health insurance system could lead to higher costs and tax burdens for American families.

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