The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Grossly Expensive 'Medicare for All' - Hidden in Plain Sight

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has an editorial today, “The Price of BernieCare” and declares that “Democrats object that Republicans are telling voters the truth about single payer.” The WSJ points out that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said this week that healthcare will determine the result of the November elections.  Meanwhile, the Republicans are running political ads across the country that focus on the huge costs associated with implementing “Medicare for All,” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I- Vt.) prohibitively expensive plan to implement single-payer or government-run healthcare for everyone.  Citizens Against Government Waste wrote about his plan in our August 10, 2018, WasteWatcher.

The WSJ writes that Democrats and the left are particularly upset with President Trump’s October 10, 2018, USA Today op ed on their “Medicare for All” plan, in which the president writes, “the Democratic proposal would establish a government-run, single-payer healthcare system that eliminates all private and employer-based health care plans and would cost an astonishing $32.6 trillion during its first 10 years.”

The president is right because the Medicare system that seniors know today is not what Sanders’ is proposing for everyone and it would not be a panacea.

For example, Medicare Advantage, which is used by one third of all seniors, would be gone.  “Medicare for All” would be a federally-administered, fully-integrated, single-payer healthcare system.  There would be no private health insurance.  Sanders’ plan would attempt to adopt Medicare’s payment scheme for doctors, which means cutting their rates by about 40 percent.  If those rates should go into effect, expect a shortage of doctors within a generation.

Many Democrats have complained that the $32.6 trillion figure, “Medicare for All’s” price tag, is misleading and that there would be a huge savings for everyone.  But, the WSJ editorial board writes, “Maybe Democrats should have looked at the results in Vermont when Bernie’s home state tried to set up single payer.  A Democratic Governor abandoned the idea in 2014 once he was looking at an 11.5 percent payroll tax, plus a 9.5 percent income tax, and more increases to come.”

As the WSJ notes, many Democrats think President Trump’s op ed and the Republican ads are unfair because not every Democratic candidate has endorsed a single-payer plan.  Perhaps they were hoping voters would not notice that would-be Democratic presidential candidates, such as Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), are running on “Medicare for All;” or that gubernatorial candidates, such as Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) and Andrew Gillum (D-Florida), are advocating for single-payer healthcare; or that a House of Representatives companion bill H.R. 676, the “Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act,” has 123 Democratic co-sponsors, which is almost two-thirds of their caucus.

The WSJ editorial board states, “Did Democrats think they could endorse [single-payer] to please their progressive base but then have no one notice?”  Apparently, they did.  But, we noticed.

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