The Democratic Party has come out of the closet this year in full-throated support of single payer in health care. Those of us who are health care policy wonks have known this was their intent all along, but they were previously smart enough not to admit it.
While the news media has been preoccupied by Republicans’ failure to get rid of Obamacare, not to mention the president’s tweets about “Little Rocket Man,” Sen. Jeff Flake, and Sen. Bob Corker, Sen. Bernie Sanders has taken over the Democratic Party. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has helped to lead the stampede toward the single payer approach to health care.
Democrats’ move to the radical left arrives just in time to hopefully save Republicans from their own incompetence. Republicans worried about their remarkable failure to repeal Obamacare should find some small consolation in the fact that progressives have won the war in the Democratic Party, forcing them to adopt a single-payer approach that they oddly view as an essential component of their strategy to win the midterm elections.
Yet being the second-most-incompetent party on health care is hardly a rousing rallying cry for the Republican Party: “Vote for us. We are admittedly impotent, but at least not crazy.” Has a nice ring to it.
Why Medicare for All Is a Fool’s Pursuit
There is certainly a simple elegance to the “Medicare for all” legislation more than 100 members of the House Democrat conference support, along with its promise of universal coverage, greater efficiencies, and making America more like other developed countries. The problem, as noted even in the liberal publications The Atlantic and The Nation a few months back, is in the details. Only the Left would look at Obamacare’s tremendous failures and conclude the problem was not enough taxes, new government spending, and people forced off insurance plans they like.
First, Medicare is not currently sustainable. Adding more beneficiaries makes the problem worse, not better. The Part A trust fund, which pays for hospital care, is projected to be insolvent by 2029. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the liberal Urban Institute have both concluded that Medicare beneficiaries earning an average wage receive more in lifetime benefits than they paid in Medicare taxes. Further, entitlement spending is already projected to grow faster than the rest of the economy and the federal budget, crowding out other spending. Massive federal tax increases would be the inevitable result.
Second, tens of millions of Americans would be forced off the plans they currently like. Almost 160 million Americans are in employer-provided coverage, fewer than 30 million are uninsured, and about 10 million participate in the Obamacare exchanges. Even within Medicare, almost 20 million beneficiaries have chosen a Medicare Advantage plan, and the number choosing to get their health care via a private insurer is growing. Let Democrats try to take away this popular benefit and explain why so many should have to give up so much to accomplish so little, as opposed to a more targeted approach that helps those in need without punishing those happy with their current coverage.
Third, government-run health care leads to longer lines, less care, and politicized decision-making. Physicians and hospitals currently accept lower Medicare and Medicaid rates by shifting costs to higher-paying private customers. A sudden and dramatic reduction in rates would very likely cause dramatic closures, bankruptcies, layoffs, and a severe recession. Even more troubling is the impact an expanded administered pricing system would have on health outcomes and quality.
Almost 20 years ago, the head of the Mayo Clinic shared with the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare the harmful impact of tens of thousands of pages of federal regulations. Len Nichols, a Democrat economist, noted the difficulty and unintended consequences of government trying to set 10,000 prices in more than 3,000 counties. Americans rightfully prefer to work with their local physicians to make their own decisions, rather than having to rely on some distant bureaucrat. It is ironic progressives are asking young voters raised on individual choice and customization to trust politicians, influenced by special interest donations and corporate lobbying, to make our health-care decisions.
‘Low Spending’ Is a Consequence of Rationing
Fourth, allowing government to take over almost a fifth of the economy will not magically reduce spending. The allure of a single payer system is understandable, but false. Put aside whether America should be trying to reduce freedom and innovation to become more like Europe, or whether they should be cutting taxes and regulations to mimic our relative growth and vitality. Many supposedly single-payer systems already involve a significant role for private insurance and patient spending.
As noted in both The Atlantic and The Nation, single-payer systems have not simply caused lower spending. They were established decades ago, when health-care spending was already low, and have been maintained through aggressive government controls, including rationing. Don’t expect the Democrat platform to discuss these details.
They can’t have socialism until they socialize health care. Once that is done, socialism is inevitable, which is the goal. It doesn’t matter how many examples of failed and disastrous socialism we have, apparently we need one more.
Then we’ll learn.
How many doctors would be willing to cut the cord not accept any form of insurance and free themselves, break the chains of needing a huge staff to do the red tape? Most are so wrapped in the spiders silk they just go along and treat people as conditions, we give this drug for that condition and there is no cure you are medicated for life. Pay no attention to nutrition just take this pill, and dont worry there are more pills for the side effects and conditions caused by the first pill. Mindless following of orders, who needs a doctor like that, just register as heart condition, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression go to clinic every 3 months take the same labs and get the scripts favored this quarter mailed to you.