Sanders hits ‘Medicare for all’ fact checks as ‘riddled with errors’

Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is hitting back at media fact checks of his “Medicare for all” plan, saying the articles are “riddled with errors.”

In a series of tweets on Monday, Sanders criticized a fact check from CNN’s Jake Tapper. 

At issue is a conservative study that Sanders has been touting from the right-leaning Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Sanders has said the study showed that his plan would reduce total U.S. health spending by $2 trillion over 10 years.

{mosads}In a video on CNN’s website, Tapper said Sanders’s claim “lacks a lot of context” and said that the author of the study, Charles Blahous, says Sanders is not being accurate.

The debate centers on assumptions about how much doctors and hospitals would be paid under Sanders’s “Medicare for all” plan.

The Mercatus study does find that U.S. national health spending would decline by about $2 trillion over 10 years under Sanders’s plan. But that is because the study accepted Sanders’s proposal to cut payments to doctors and hospitals down to the rates that Medicare currently pays.

Some experts doubt those cuts would be feasible, given that they could lead to damaging losses and financial problems for hospitals. 

If the numbers are changed so that the cuts to doctor and hospital payments are not as steep, there is no longer $2 trillion in savings, and there in fact could be an increase in total spending.

For example, a 2016 study of Sanders’s plan from the Urban Institute assumed higher payments to hospitals, and found that the plan would actually increase U.S. health spending by $6 trillion, not decrease it.  

Sanders, though, argues that the payment rates in his plan are feasible and that fact-checkers should go by what is actually in his plan, not the doubts expressed by Blahouse, who wrote the Mercatus study.

“The corporate fact checkers are blindly trusting the author of the Mercatus report,” Sanders tweeted.

Tapper responded on Twitter to Sanders, noting that other fact checkers have also found that Sanders left out context about how different payment rates would change the savings found under his plan.

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