Same Old, Same Old | Citizens Against Government Waste

Same Old, Same Old

The WasteWatcher

Sen. Bernie Sanders (i-Vt) re-introduced his “Medicare for All” bill, S. 1129 on April 10 and as of today, the legislation has 14 cosponsors, five of which who are Democratic presidential primary contenders: Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J), Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and of course, Bernie himself.  Its companion bill in the House of Representatives, H.R. 1384, was introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) in February and has 108 cosponsors.

Bernie’s new bill is not that much different from the bill he introduced in September 2017, S. 1804, except he adds a long-term care provision.  Citizens Against Government Waste critiqued that bill in an August 10, 2018 Waste Watcher.  Sanders provides no cost for his legislation but, prior estimates for the cost of his 2017 proposal was an additional $32.6 trillion over ten years to current spending commitments, provided all the deep cuts for providers and price controls are implemented.

As usual, he claims that our healthcare system is a complete failure and that we have 34 million Americans who are uninsured and even more who are underinsured.  Keep in mind, President Obama promised that he would sign a universal healthcare bill by the end of his first term.  That did happen.  He said the legislation would cover every American and drop premiums by an average of $2,500 a year.  That did not happen.  Sen. Sanders voted for that legislation too.  He believes the government has not interfered enough in healthcare delivery.

Under Medicare for All, private insurance would no longer exist as it would be prohibited within four years after its enactment, except for procedures not covered under the act.  In theory, that is just about everything except for cosmetic surgery.  That means you would rely entirely on the government to take care of your most precious asset – you.  If you wanted to use private insurance to move ahead of the waiting lines to get access to a doctor or a procedure that inevitably will occur, you are out of luck.

There would be no deductibles, no copays, everything would be “free” at the point of care.  These types of promises were made when other countries adopted socialized health systems.  But, when something becomes “free” it is over utilized and countries have found it necessary to institute price controls and rationing to contain costs within their socialized systems. 

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, ironically abbreviated to NICE, is England’s National Health Service agency that “provides national guidance and advice to improve health and social care.”  In other words, it’s the rationing board.  It decides what innovative drugs will get covered, what procedures will be done based on the quality of life gained or the patient’s age, and how long it will be before a patient gets access to treatment.  News of its latest rejections can easily be found on the Internet.

Patients in countries with socialized medicine are very familiar with waiting times to get access to care.  For example, in December 2018, The Fraser Institute published “Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada, 2018 Report” shows what Canadians put up with.  To see a specialist, it takes on average 19.8 weeks from referral by a general practitioner to getting treatment.  Canadians will wait 4.3 weeks for a CT scan, 10.6 weeks for a MRI, and 3.9 weeks for an ultra sound.

Sen. Sanders will increase taxes significantly to pay for his “free” healthcare, which includes a 4 percent income-based premium paid by employees, a 7.5 percent income-based premium by employers, and going after his favorite target, “the rich,” with a marginal tax rate of up to 70 percent for those making more than $10 million, imposing a fee on large financial institutions and repealing corporate accounting “gimmicks.”  It is clear he will go after businesses for a large chunk of the cash, which will cause unemployment to go up.

If we adopted such a plan, it would not be long before we mirrored our European friends who impose high taxes on businesses and the Value Added Taxes (VAT) for the sales of all goods with the standard rate set at about 20 percent.  This tax reaches everyone.  The European Union has an average unemployment rate of 7.9 percent, which is considered pretty good and is a ten-year low.  After all, someone has to pay for their generous social-benefit programs like “free” healthcare.

Let’s hope the U.S. continues to reject “free” socialized medicine.

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