Good Friday afternoon, and welcome to the Weekly Scan.  Here are some of the key stories you may have missed recently in the debate on America’s health care future:

  • As prominent Democrats continue to highlight the risks of Medicare for all proposals like the bill introduced this week by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune also weighed in, noting that “there are many ways to advance the goal of expanding coverage and containing costs that don’t require a federal takeover of health insurance.”  They write:

The first problem is money.  A 2016 study by the liberal Urban Institute estimated that Sanders’ program would boost federal outlays by $32 trillion over a decade.  To put that in perspective, remember that total federal expenditures this year will be about $4.4 trillion … The liberal Tax Policy Center found a funding shortfall of $16.6 trillion over 10 years, which roughly equals the entire federal debt currently held by the public.  That dire reality brings us to the second problem: public opinion.  A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that most Americans support the idea of Medicare for All — until they hear that it would raise taxes and eliminate private health insurance companies.  More than 150 million people are covered by employer-provided insurance, and most are happy with it.

  • As Sanders introduced his costly, one-size-fits all Medicare for all legislation in the Senate this week, the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future released a statement explaining that “Medicare for all is the opposite of practical, and it destroys our system rather than building on its successes … That is the wrong way forward for America,” first reported in The Washington Post.
  • Meanwhile, POLITICO reports that the Partnership launched a new digital advertising campaign – part of a national, six-figure effort – to inform voters that despite her promise to protect and strengthen the Affordable Care Act, Congresswoman Lori Trahan (D-Mass.) has instead sponsored Medicare for all legislation that would eliminate our entire health care system, including the ACA, and start from scratch with a one-size-fits-all government-run health care program.  They report:

The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future is out with a new digital ad campaign that blasts Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.) for her recent decision to co-sponsor H.R. 1384 (116), the House’s Medicare-for-all bill.  See ad.  “Congresswoman Trahan promised that she would protect and strengthen the Affordable Care Act, but in Washington she has co-sponsored legislation that would eliminate the ACA and replace our entire health care system,” said Lauren Crawford Shaver, the Partnership’s executive director.  It’s the first ad by the industry-backed coalition that singles out an individual member of Congress.

  • And, not only would Medicare for all disrupt Americans’ coverage and care and force families to pay more through higher taxes, questions are also arising about how it would impact children.  Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus on Children, notes that the various Medicare for all-style proposals “raise very different challenges for children.”  He writes:

[One] “Medicare for All” approach calls for moving millions of children out of Medicaid and CHIP into the Medicare program.  Since Medicaid and CHIP were created with children in mind and have pediatric benefits, pediatric networks, and strong affordability provisions, this approach leaves child advocates with numerous questions as to how those protections and standards will be established and guaranteed in a new Medicare system … [Another] set of “Medicare for All” proposals would actually repeal Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and private health insurance coverage options for children and other populations and move them to an entirely new health care or single payer system.  While some progressive health reform advocates and the media are criticizing those that do not sign up for this approach as being vague or not bold, I would argue the opposite.  In fact, the truth is that this approach is the one most lacking in the way of details … Therefore, to all our single payer activist friends, it really is not the Democratic presidential candidates or other advocates that should have to justify their positions to you at this moment in time.  The onus is really on you.