WASHINGTON – As U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) continues to face tough questions about the unaffordable tax hikes and lower quality of care Americans would face under his costly “Medicare for all” plan, USA Today became the latest high-profile newspaper to strongly criticize the proposed one-size-fits-all government-run health care system, calling it a “political pipe dream” with “no hope” while pointing to its “utter impracticality” and ticking through a laundry list of dire warnings issued by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) last week.  The paper’s editorial board writes:

Led by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, many are infatuated with a remake of health care far more radical than any in the past.  Sanders’ plan, dubbed “Medicare for All,” would eliminate private insurers and have all Americans covered through Medicare.  It would be far more generous than most current plans — covering dental, vision and mental health, among other things — and would be financed largely by taxes on the wealthy.

But as CNN reports, “[t]ax experts, however, say that you can’t raise enough money from taxing the rich and that the levies on all Americans may exceed the savings for more people than Sanders expects.  This may be particularly true of low-income folks who get heavily subsidized coverage on the Obamacare exchanges.”  CNN continues:

Sanders hasn’t provided a comprehensive analysis of how much the plan … will cost or how he will pay for it … “His plan still doesn’t add up,” [Marc] Goldwein [of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB)] said … “To generate the kind of revenue that Sanders is talking about to pay for something as big as his version of Medicare for All … would be vastly more expensive than any of the kinds of things he’s talking about,” said Howard Gleckman, senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank.  “He’s going to have to come up with more money from some place.”

Driving that point home, The Washington Post reports that Medicare for all “would require tax hikes on middle class families,” a fact on which independent analysts agree.  The Mercatus Center warns that, even at a low-end cost estimate of $30 trillion over 10 years, “doubling all federal individual and corporate income taxes going forward would be insufficient to fully finance the plan,” while CRFB found that enacting Medicare for all “would mean increasing federal spending by about 60 percent (excluding interest)” and “would require the equivalent of tripling payroll taxes or more than doubling all other taxes.

USA Today continues:

What stands out is the utter impracticality of getting from where things stand today to what he proposes.  In an era of intense political polarization, no measure that disrupts insurance for more than 100 million Americans, most of them reasonably satisfied with their coverage, would get through Congress … The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which has long been the gold standard for estimating the cost of legislation, looked at Sanders’ plan and decided there were too many unknowns to produce a hard number.  But CBO did say that implementing it would be “complicated, challenging and potentially disruptive.”  The combination of generous benefits and lower payments to health care providers could create “a shortage of providers, longer wait times and changes in the quality of care,” CBO warned last week.

Today, roughly 90 percent of Americans are covered.  U.S. Census data indicate that more than 217 million Americans benefit from private coverage – including 180 million who receive coverage through their employers and 10 million who shopped for coverage through the marketplaces last year.  More than 20 million seniors are enrolled in the popular Medicare Advantage program.

Public opinion research shows that a majority of Americans are satisfied with their coverage and care.  “Perhaps the greatest political danger for Democrats is that Medicare for all would disrupt coverage” for every one of those AmericansBloomberg reports.

As the CBO notes, under Medicare for all, “participants would not have a choice of insurer or health benefits.  Compared with the options available under the current system, the benefits provided by the public plan might not address the needs of some people… And, unlike a system with competing private insurers, the public plan might not be as quick to meet patients’ needs, such as covering new treatments.”

  • To read the USA Today editorial board’s full piece, CLICK HERE.

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