Socialist U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont got a lot of traction during the 2016 presidential race with his promise of “Medicare for All” – in essence, cradle-to-grave government-funded health care.
The appeal of the concept, particularly to idealistic younger voters, has not gone without notice among Democrats. Such 2020 presidential hopefuls as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and California Sen. Kamala Harris now advocate such a program.
The idea’s appeal is obvious superficially. In some households, the cost of family health coverage consumes the bulk of the paycheck of one working spouse or the other.
It is only natural that workers would be happy to be rid of the expense. So would employers, who usually absorb the greater share of the cost of employee health plans.
The idea of Medicare for All runs off the rails, however, when the analysis turns to how the federal government would pay for it.
We have never in our experience seen the federal government accomplish anything at less cost than the private sector. If this holds true with government health care, it means people ultimately, collectively, would pay more for health coverage than they would by accessing the current system. This would come in the form of new payroll and other taxes and, more significantly, suppressed wages as corporations are taxed to the gills.
Just how much would such a program cost? A report out this week by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University says that “conservatively” the federal government would have to increase its current health care spending by $32.6 trillion over 10 years.
Consider this in perspective. The entire national debt stood at $21 trillion as of April 30.
Remember how Democrats like Warren railed at the fact that the Republican tax cuts last year could add $2 trillion to the national debt over 10 years? The hypocrisy of this was widely noted given that the national debt had just doubled from $10 trillion to $20 trillion under President Barack Obama.
But consider what it would require to spend roughly 150 percent of the national debt over 10 years in addition to continuing to finance the existing $21 trillion in debt. One could not raise taxes high enough; could not even come close. And even taxes well short of what is required would cause economic collapse.
A smaller version of this reality played out in the California Legislature last year. Democrats advanced a measure to provide universal health care – a state version of “Medicare for All” – with great fanfare. But they beat a hasty retreat when a state senate study determined it would cost the state $400 billion a year. The entire state budget at the time was $179.5 billion.
That is the problem with universal coverage at any level. The math just won’t work. And it particularly doesn’t work when one is relying on government for the execution. Just take a look at the VA hospital system if you want evidence of that.
“Medicare for All” is a political bill of goods. But it’s a good one, which is why some unscrupulous Democrats are peddling it. If they are successful, those who take the bait will get what is deserved, and it won’t be free health care.
This article provided by NewsEdge.