House Introduces Single-Payer Healthcare Plan: Medicare for All | Citizens Against Government Waste
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House Introduces Single-Payer Healthcare Plan: Medicare for All

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.


On Wednesday, February 27, Rep. Pramila Jaypal (D-Wa) introduced H.R. 1384, the “Medicare for All Act of 2019.”  As of March 8, the bill has 106 co-sponsors.  That represents 45 percent of the Democratic caucus.

If the bill should become law, within in two years there would be no more private health insurance.  Instead, Americans would be forced to participate in a single-payer, government-run system.  That means unelected Washington, D.C. bureaucrats, and politicians, would decide what you would get in healthcare.  A summary of the bill is here.

As usual, the bill’s sponsor and its supporters promise the sun and the moon, a regular medical utopia.  The bill would cover medical care, maternity services, pharmaceuticals, dental care, vision coverage, and long-term care for the disabled and seniors, and it would be “free.”  There would be no insurance premiums, no copays, no co-insurance and no deductibles.  People would be allowed to utilize the doctor they choose.  In other words, “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”

Where have we heard that promise before?

It guarantees comprehensive benefits, freedom of choice, and lower-cost of drugs.  How will this really occur?  Through price controls, long wait times for procedures, and confiscatory taxes.  While Americans constantly get harangued on how we are the only highly developed country on Earth without universal healthcare, single-payer promoters always neglect to answer what other nations must do to pay for their “free stuff.”  After all, when everything is free, it will be over-utilized and rationing and cutting reimbursement to providers is the only way to keep budgets in line.  In a May 19, 2018 Forbes column, “Don’t Fall for Single-Payer’s False Promises,” Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute explained what has happened with other single-payer systems, such as in Canada and the United Kingdom.

So far there is no cost estimate on how much Rep. Jaypal’s ambitious plan will cost but certainly it will be just as expensive as Sen. Bernie Sander’s (I-Vt.) proposal, which a a July 2018 Mercatus Center report calculated to be $32.6 trillion over ten years.  Furthermore, that’s the price tag if the law succeeds in cutting payment rates to providers, such as doctors, by 40 percent.

While many Democrats have called for committee hearings on Medicare for All, so far, none have been scheduled.  According a March 8, 2019 The Hill article, “Dem leaders, progressives struggle over ‘Medicare for All,'" there is a definite angst in the caucus regarding moving forward on this proposition.  Democratic leaders know the price tag will be astronomically high and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wondered out loud how converting to a single-payer system would be paid for.  Add this additional socialist idea to the New Green Deal and the nation would face trillions of dollars of new spending -- and bankruptcy.

Even if the Democrats follow through and hold hearings, and pass Medicare for All, it is highly unlikely Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote, unless of course it is to put Democrats on the record for supporting yet another monstrous spending program.  Even if the Democrats were to take over the Senate in 2020, it is unlikely they would elect enough senators to achieve the 60-vote threshold needed to stop a filibuster and pass the bill.  And while Budget Reconciliation rules allow a simple majority to pass legislation, the arcane rules used under this process make if very difficult to pass something as comprehensive as Medicare for All. 

According to the 2018 Medicare Trustees report, Medicare’s Hospital Trust Fund is scheduled to run out of money in 2026.  Yet, somehow the socialists in Congress think they will be able to create and finance Medicare for All and not bankrupt the country.  Those who touted that our healthcare premiums under Obamacare would decrease, on average, $2,500 per family, per year are making the same over-the-top claims again.  Americans need to remember the promises and problems they faced and continue to deal with under Obamacare as Medicare for All becomes a rallying cry for 2020 presidential and congressional candidates.

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