So it’s come to this. Socialized medicine is the platform for leaders of a major American political party.
The “Medicare-for-all” plan that was unveiled yesterday is similar to the plan Bernie Sanders proposed during his Presidential run. But this time he has powerful Senate Democrats backing him including, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Al Franken, and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s fellow New York Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand. Make no mistake, these Senators pull weight in the Democratic Party, and they bring a legitimacy to Sanders’s expansive and expensive health care plan. In fact, a liberal spokesman recently said, “In 2020, it’s highly probable that the Democratic nominee is actively campaigning on ‘Medicare for all,’ not just endorsing it.”
Sponsors are touting feel-good messages of “leaving no one behind,” guaranteeing health care to all, and following “every other industrialized nation,” but they aren’t talking about the costs, both to finances and freedom, that the American people will feel under the proposal.
Though Sanders's new proposal has not been scored yet by economists, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) estimated his previous plan would cost $25 trillion over the next decade. The Urban institute, a left-leaning think tank, estimated the proposal would cost $32 trillion. The new Sanders bill does not attempt to offset these enormous costs, but instead provided a document of massive tax increase proposals as "options" to pay for the bill. Even when you add all of them up, they fund barely half of the bill's costs. According to CRFB, Sanders’s previous plan would add at least $14 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, and would stick taxpayers with an extra $11 trillion in taxes.
It is hard to believe that just days after our national debt surpassed $20 trillion, Democratic leaders in the Senate are endorsing what will likely be the most expensive bill in American history, without a specific way to pay for it. Like neglecting healthy eating and exercise, adverse effects don’t always make themselves immediately present. But in time, out-of-control spending, no matter how well-intentioned, will end up leaving future generations of Americans behind.
Then there’s the socialism part.
Millennials who view socialism, and therefore socialized medicine and single-payer health care, as favorable, simply may not understand what exactly it is, as one New York Times survey found. For those that may be confused, basically socialized medicine means the government controls health care, or, explained differently, single-payer health care means the government would be the sole insurer of health care, hence “single-payer.”
To deflect from the title “single-payer,” Sanders’s plan embraces the phrase, “Medicare For All.” While popular among seniors, the program’s performance does not live up to its hype. GAO, the federal government's auditor, has a “high risk list” that “calls attention to agencies and program areas that are high risk due to their vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or are most in need of transformation.” Medicare has been on GAO’s high risk list since its initial release in 1990 because of its “size, complexity, and susceptibility to mismanagement and improper payments.”
Now, imagine adding every American to Medicare. You could probably guess that if its “size, complexity, and susceptibility to mismanagement and improper payments,” are already an issue, that problem would greatly expand. Bad news for generations that will inevitably inherit this mess, along with its debt.
It is clear that not only is putting government in charge a logistical nightmare, but the costs to young Americans would be devastating. Instead, Congress should forge a plan based on transparency and competition that lets individuals and families choose health care coverage that meets their needs, not a one size fits all government run program.
While Republicans are still largely divided on what healthcare should look like in the United States, Democrats are quickly rallying around a single-payer system with the ‘Medicare for All’ plan. Democratic candidates, who are looking to capture popularity among millennials, are making a bet single-payer health care will be the winning ticket for the 2018 midterms and beyond. These candidates will try to keep the focus on their talking points of a perfect system where everyone is seamlessly covered by a well-functioning government, but this government takeover proposal may quickly lose popularity amongst younger generations once they find out how much the nation’s health (fiscal and physical) will suffer.
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Adam joined Restore Accountability in 2016 and manages the Foundation's day to day creative operations. Previously, he spent two years on Capitol Hill working for Senator Tom Coburn and Senator Jeff Flake...FULL BIO