Medicare for All won’t deliver what Democrats promise
Last week, most Americans heard from 20 Democratic presidential candidates for the first time as they appeared on a national debate stage. Candidates introduced themselves, touted their policy proposals and spent a significant period of time avoiding whether Medicare for All is an affordable idea, who will pay for it and how expansive it should really be.
Free public goods have become a pillar of mainstream leftist policy platforms. Free college and free health care are all the rage. Relieving college debt has now also become the flavor of the summer for candidates such as Democratic Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
And while free programs, starting with health care, sound appealing, the reality is that there is no such thing as free. Somebody has to pay for wild-eyed proposals like free college, the Green New Deal and yes, Medicare for All. Wealth transfers engineered by bureaucrats, special interests and politicians rarely end up as advertised. Medicare for All is no exception.
Democrats are usually pretty clear about who will pay (“the rich” and corporations), but are deliberately vague when it comes to the nuts and bolts of Medicare for All because the real losers in their scheme are the working class Americans that the Democratic Party is leaving behind.
Medicare for All will upend our very imperfect health care system as we know it and replace it with a $32 trillion single-payer program. Private insurers will be gone. The health plans offered by employers and fought for by unions will cease to exist. Family doctors will be driven out of practice. The power of consumer choice will now be turned over to Congress and whomever might sit in the White House.
With a $32 trillion price tag, financing a program of this magnitude can only mean one thing: Higher Taxes for All.
Ignore the perennial “tax the one percent” tagline. Taxes will go up across the board. And as usual, the middle class will take the brunt of the hit. The once forgotten working class – which has made a soaring comeback under President Trump – will be hit by massive tax hikes they cannot afford and a new bureaucratic maze to navigate resulting in worse care and longer waits.
But don’t expect any of the Democrats to come clean anytime soon. They have good reason to stay silent. Polling shows that 60 percent of Americans oppose for Medicare for All when they learn they’ll be paying Uncle Sam more of their hard-earned money.
That’s not all. The Congressional Budget Office concluded that a single-payer system will increase the demand for care, while putting pressure on the available supply. If you’re sick, forget about seeing a doctor when you need to. Patients will have to wait weeks, even months, to see a doctor or receive life-saving medical procedures.
If you need specialty care, the doctors and nurses you need will be run out of medicine with lower reimbursement rates and longer hours with patients clamoring for care.
Yet proponents continue to hail Medicare for All as the magic bullet that will save the health care system once and for all. They ignore the facts. And their misleading messaging leaves voters unaware of the consequences. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 55 percent of Americans think they will still be able to keep their private insurance.
More Americans have health insurance than ever before. And they like their health insurance. They’re satisfied with their quality of the care. They don’t want to be forced into a one-size-fits-all program run by Washington.
And voters beware. Government-run health care is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the radical left agenda. The far left will continue pushing for extreme policies that strip us of our basic freedoms and threaten our prosperity. We’re treading into dangerous territory. And Americans should be frightened of the consequences.
Americans deserve access to affordable, high-quality health care. Medicare for All would deliver neither. Instead it would turn our health care system into a bureaucratic disaster, while erasing the gains made by the working class and dragging our economy into a pit of lower wages and higher unemployment.
Jim Renacci represented Ohio’s 16th District from 2011 to 2019.