Dems force 'Medicare for All' on Americans but exempt themselves

Dems force 'Medicare for All' on Americans but exempt themselves
© Greg Nash

Having destroyed the private health insurance market, Democrats have a new target in their sights: Medicare. Just don’t expect any of them to be part of the system they would force everyone else to be in.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersTrump has declared war on our climate — we won’t let him win Stock slide bites boastful Trump, but rising wages great for GOP Millions should march on DC to defeat Trump Republicans MORE (I-Vt.), the self-proclaimed socialist and increasingly the brain trust of the Democratic Party, has once again introduced his “Medicare for All” legislation. Only this time, instead of running for cover as they’ve done in the past when single-payer legislation was introduced, some 15 other Democratic senators have endorsed it.

The idea is that private health insurance would be phased out and replaced by a government-run single-payer system that would work something like Medicare.


On the positive side, neither individuals nor their employers would have to pay health insurance premiums anymore. But everyone, not just the rich, would have to pay higher taxes — a lot higher. 

We don’t know how much higher because Sanders hasn’t asked the Congressional Budget Office to estimate the cost of his plan. Probably just an oversight. But not to worry, in the spirit of bipartisanship and transparency, Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoLobbying World GOP chairman: Republicans' reactions 'mixed' on gas tax increase Overnight Regulation: Dems go on attack during EPA chief's hearing | Mnuchin promises more Russia sanctions | Regulators subpoena major bitcoin exchange | New lawsuit over FDA e-cig rule MORE (R-Wyo.) has made the request of the CBO.

The biggest problem with such a Medicare expansion is that it would ruin the program for everyone, especially seniors. While Medicare is a type of single-payer system, it only covers about 16 percent of the population.

The program pays doctors, on average, about 20 percent less than private health insurance, so most of them shift costs to patients with private coverage. But what happens when all patients are paying 20 percent less?

To put it in business terms, just because a company discounts its products or services 20 percent some of the time (e.g., a sale) doesn’t mean it can survive with 20 percent less all the time.

One question constituents and the media should be asking the single-payer senators is whether they will be in the system they plan to force on you and me.

They will almost certainly say yes, which may end up being Politifact’s “Lie of the Year” — just as Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaGOP lawmaker: Dems not standing for Trump is 'un-American' Forget the Nunes memo — where's the transparency with Trump’s personal finances? Mark Levin: Clinton colluded with Russia, 'paid for a warrant' to surveil Carter Page MORE’s “if you like your health plan you can keep it” became the Lie of the Year in 2013.

Of course, Democrats also swore they would live under the Affordable Care Act, just like everyone else. They even included a provision introduced by Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Cybersecurity: Tillerson proposes new cyber bureau at State | Senate bill would clarify cross-border data rules | Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up breach Overnight Finance: Senators near two-year budget deal | Trump would 'love to see a shutdown' over immigration | Dow closes nearly 600 points higher after volatile day | Trade deficit at highest level since 2008 | Pawlenty leaving Wall Street group Grassley to Sessions: Policy for employees does not comply with the law MORE (R-Iowa) that would require them to participate in ObamaCare exchanges — until they found out how much it would cost them.

After the law passed, Democrats went crying to Obama, demanding he find some loophole that would let them keep their taxpayer-provided insurance subsidies. To no one’s surprise, the Office of Personnel Management found one, essentially ruling that Congress, with 535 members of the House and Senate and thousands of staffers, is a small business for purposes of ObamaCare.

Now the pressure is on President Trump to rescind that phony exemption and require Congress to live by the letter of the law it makes us follow. 

The point is that history gives us little reason to think Congress will make itself live under the same health coverage it wants to impose on us. Democrats pushing single-payer have no intention of having to deal with the problems that come with all government-run single-payer systems: waiting lines, rationed care and limited access to the newest (and sometimes the most expensive) prescription drugs and medical devices.

No, they will ensure that they have alternatives you don’t have.

Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas, Texas. Follow at @MerrillMatthews.