August 6, 2019 | Updates

Wall Street Journal Ed Board: Senator Harris’s Medicare For All ‘Would Blow Up’ Employer-Provided Coverage

WASHINGTON – After last week’s Democratic presidential debates, in which proponents of Medicare for all struggled to defend a government-run health care system, The Wall Street Journal editorial board explains that despite efforts by Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) to position her Medicare for all proposal as “less disruptive,” it would “blow up traditional employer-sponsored insurance, which 150 million Americans have” and lead to a one-size-fits-all system in which “[r]ationed care and waiting lists are inevitable.”

The Harris plan would move the country to single-payer health care over 10 years, rather than the four years in the Bernie Sanders bill Ms. Harris co-sponsored in the Senate.  The first step is that anyone in America could buy into Medicare.  At least Ms. Harris is honest that this is a way station to single payer.  Ms. Harris says she’ll provide a “commonsense path” for folding everything from Medicaid to employer insurance into the federal system. She conveniently leaves out details on how she’d land this Evel Knievel jump, but her political goal seems to be to claim that she wouldn’t eliminate private insurance … She wants her plan to appear less disruptive than the Sanders bill, yet the obvious conclusion is that it would still blow up traditional employer-sponsored insurance, which 150 million Americans have.  Ms. Harris said Wednesday that she’d “listened to American families” who want “an option that will be under your Medicare system that allows a private plan.”  But could Americans keep the employer plans they have?  No.  This is bad policy and politics.  Democrats paint all of U.S. health care as a dystopian hellscape, and there’s certainly room for improvement.  But some 69% of people rate their health-care coverage as excellent or good, according to a Gallup poll from December 2018.  The number who say the health care they receive is good or excellent?  Some 80%.  Ms. Harris also ducks whether her plan would slam the middle class with higher taxes … Progressives say Medicare for All merely replaces the premiums you hate with taxes, but it isn’t so simple.  A 2016 analysis from Kenneth Thorpe at Emory University found that more than 70% of working privately insured households would pay more for health insurance under the Sanders plan.  Medicare for All would also encourage folks to consume more health care even as it slashes payments to doctors and hospitals and thus contracts supply.  Rationed care and waiting lists are inevitable.

Eighty-six percent of Americans with employer-provided coverage rate their coverage as “good” or “excellent,” according to a new national poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

And while Senator Harris claims that her government-run health care system would not force families to pay more through higher taxesBloomberg finds that under Medicare for all, “[f]or many Americans … higher taxes would exceed any savings.”

CNN recently reported that “[t]ax experts … say that you can’t raise enough money from taxing the rich and that the levies on all Americans may exceed the savings” supporters of Medicare for all promise.  “There’s no possible way to finance [Medicare for all] without big middle class tax increases,” the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget’s Marc Goldwein explained to The Washington Post.

At New York Magazine, Eric Levitz notes that “[i]n policy terms, this is the opposite of hard-nosed realism.  Very few left-wing economists – including those who contend that America’s fiscal deficit is too low – believe that the U.S. can afford to establish Medicare for All without charging families that earn $90,000 a year any premiums or new taxes.”  Levitz recently examined the “fundamental incoherence” and “substantive absurdity” of Senator Harris’s position on Medicare for all, including her assertion that such a system could be implemented without middle-class tax increases.

Research shows that most Americans are well aware that they’d be hit with unaffordable tax hikes under the system Harris supports: “There’s one thing Americans understand about Medicare-for-all: It would mean higher taxes … Americans seem most familiar with the fact that Medicare-for-all would require massively higher taxes,” The Washington Post reports of a recent national poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.  As Kaiser writes of their findings, “eight in 10 Americans (78%) are aware that taxes would increase for most people under such a plan.” 

A previous national poll by Kaiser revealed that 60 percent oppose Medicare for all when they learn it would require most Americans to pay higher taxes.



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