March 13, 2020 | 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 of one-size-fits-all new government health insurance systems – namely Medicare for All, Medicare buy-in and the public option – continue to make headlines.  A Reuters fact check finds that “[Senator] Bernie Sanders does admit he would raise taxes on the middle class” to pay for Medicare for All, and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) found that, even with those proposed tax increases, Medicare for All “alone would leave a $13 trillion hole in the federal budget,” NBC News reports.  

“Either there’s going to be massively higher taxes, a massive reduction in the ambition of what [Senator Bernie Sanders is] proposing or a massive increase in the deficits and debts,” Austan Goolsbee, who was chairman of President Barack Obama’s economic council, said of [Medicare for All].  “It’s got to be one of those three.”

Meanwhile, Scott Atlas of Stanford University writes in The New York Times that “single-payer health care proposals like Medicare for All could very well destroy Medicare as we know it and jeopardize medical care for seniors.”

… Medicare for All will radically change health care for retirees because the services they get from hospitals and doctors are in effect subsidized by higher payments from privately insured patients … Will these cuts occur without hurting timeliness or quality of care for patients?  Here’s another truth – abolishing private insurance would harm today’s retirees on Medicare, because more than 70 percent of them use private insurance in addition to or instead of traditional Medicare … We also must not ignore the fact that Medicare is already facing serious financial challenges  Abolishing private insurance, whether by law or via the slower pathway via introducing a public option, will eliminate the health care access and quality that today’s retirees enjoy.

This helps explain why recent polling has found that “[m]ost Medicare recipients oppose ‘Medicare for All’ or a Medicare-like plan to extend health insurance to all Americans,” CNBC reports.  In Florida, for instance, Medicare for All is “sparking controversy among retirees in the all-important battleground state,” Fox Business reports

As the unaffordable costs and negative consequences are made clearer, more Americans are urging candidates to focus on building on what’s working and fixing what isn’t – not starting over with a one-size-fits-all system controlled by politicians.  In Michigan, “the idea of giving up health care plans they negotiated for in favor of a government-controlled system that guarantees coverage for everyone” proved highly controversial among members of labor unions, The Detroit News reports.  “[P]rivate health insurance coverage is something unions have fought for and don’t want to give up, according to those who work with businesses in the state,” Forbes adds

This makes sense, considering recent polling. In fact, the just-released third 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 a “supermajority of voters prefer to build on and improve our current health care system rather than replace it with something new.”  And a new Gallup poll taken ahead of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) tenth anniversary found that “despite some Democratic presidential candidates’ focus on ‘Medicare for all’ … results indicate Democrats are in no hurry to abandon the ACA.”


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