Americans' access to care threatened under one-size-fits-all new government health insurance system
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As the debate over America’s health care future continues to make headlines, a new issue brief adds to the growing consensus that a one-size-fits-all new government health insurance system known as Medicare for All would threaten Americans’ access to affordable, high-quality health care.

The issue brief – conducted by FTI Consulting for the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF) – finds that Medicare for All could result in over 1 million fewer doctors and nurses nationwide by 2050, threatening Americans’ access to quality health care. According to the issue brief, Medicare for All “could have a significant negative impact on the adequacy of the country’s health care workforce, access to care, and, ultimately, patient outcomes.”

As the health care workforce shrinks nationwide, the issue brief warns that Medicare for All could threaten access to quality care at our nation’s already struggling rural hospitals, serving more than 60 million Americans. Medicare for All could result in an estimated decrease of 5.4% in the total number of U.S. physicians, a reduction that could be felt most acutely in rural communities already experiencing access challenges. Further, research shows that shortages of healthcare workers in rural areas widen existing health disparities and contribute to hospital closures,” according to the issue brief.

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This new issue brief adds to the growing body of research that Medicare for All would force American families to pay more to wait longer for worse care. Instead of increasing access to quality care, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) finds that a one-size-fits-all new government health insurance system could actually reduce it. Experts also agree that Medicare for All would pose a tremendous threat to our nation’s rural hospitals, noting that some “would close virtually overnight,” further limiting access to care for millions of Americans.

Even worse, experts confirm that Medicare for All would burden hard-working American families with higher taxes and private plan premiums. Medicare for All is estimated to cost more than $50 trillion over 10 years and the non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) finds that “fully offsetting the cost would require higher taxes on the middle class.” Despite claims by supporters of Medicare for All that families would see their overall costs decrease, a wide range of experts agree that it is impossible to make those guarantees, warning that “most taxpayers would pay more in taxes than they would save from having the federal government absorb the cost of health-care premiums.” Medicare for All’s unaffordable price tag also “means layoffs,” according to one of the architects of the new one-size-fits-all system.

And while some try to paint new government-controlled health insurance systems – like Medicare Buy-in, Medicare for America and the public option – as “moderate” alternatives to Medicare for All, issue briefs, studies, and experts confirm that these new systems would lead to the same negative consequences over time. Another recent study from FTI Consulting finds that the public option would eliminate private coverage options through the marketplaces for millions of Americans ultimately forcing everyone on the same one-size-fits-all system controlled by politicians. And a study by KNG Health Consulting, LLC found that Medicare for America, another government-controlled health insurance system, could force one-third of American workers off of their current employer provided health coverage.

Just like Medicare for All, these new government-controlled systems would limit patients’ access to quality care, as hospitals could be forced to offer less care or even close entirely. One study by Navigant Consulting found that the public option could put more than 1,000 rural U.S. hospitals – serving more than 60 million Americans – “at high risk of closure.” And another study from KNG Consulting found that “[f]or hospitals, the introduction of a public plan that reimburses providers using Medicare rates would compound financial stresses they are already facing, potentially impacting access to care and provider quality.”

The public option would also burden families and our economy with unaffordable new costs, as Americans’ premiums could skyrocket, and experts have noted that a public option system “could prove costly.” That’s because – as an additional KNG study finds – instead of addressing rising health care costs, it “would increase total health care spending, with the largest spending increases occurring among those who already had public coverage through Medicare or Medicaid.”

Today, around 90 percent of Americans are covered and millions more are eligible for coverage. We should build on what’s working and fix what’s broken not start over with a one-size-fits-all government health insurance system that increases costs and threatens access to care for millions of Americans. That way, we can expand access to affordable, high-quality care without compromising the coverage and care a majority of Americans are satisfied with.

Lauren Crawford Shaver is the executive director of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future. She was previously the deputy assistant secretary for public affairs in health care at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and has worked on numerous Democratic political campaigns over the last decade.