P.J. O’Rourke once noted that, “If you think that health care is expensive now, just wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.” He was, of course, speaking rhetorically, but we can now put a number to his epigram: $32.6 trillion.
Yes, that’s right: $32,600,000,000,000. That’s what Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for all” plan would cost the United States over 10 years, at least according to a study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Virginia, a libertarian-leaning policy think-tank.
The study looks at the Medicare for All Act — Sanders’ “current Senate bill to establish single-payer health insurance in the United States” — and looks at the costs over a decade. And that $32.6 trillion number isn’t the only eye-popping statistic from the study.
“This projected increase in federal healthcare commitments would equal approximately 10.7 percent of GDP in 2022. This amount would rise to nearly 12.7 percent of GDP in 2031 and continue to rise thereafter,” the Mercatus Center noted.
The study also states that “the federal cost of enacting the M4A Act would be such that doubling all federal individual and corporate income taxes going forward would be insufficient to fully finance the plan, even under the assumption that provider payment rates are reduced by over 40 percent for treatment of patients now covered by private insurance.”
“Such an increase in the scope of federal government operations would precipitate a correspondingly large increase in federal taxation or debt and would be unprecedented if undertaken as an enduring federal commitment.”
And that might just be the beginning: “These estimates are conservative because they assume the legislation achieves its sponsors’ goals of dramatically reducing payments to health providers, in addition to substantially reducing drug prices and administrative costs,” the Mercatus Center says.
“Enacting something like ‘Medicare for all’ would be a transformative change in the size of the federal government,” said Charles Blahous, the study’s author, according to The Associated Press.
That might be okay with the most liberal Democrats, but clearly this is something that the center of the party isn’t going to embrace, right? Well, unfortunately, even Democrats you might think would be moderate are tilting to the left like a ship about to capsize on the issue of “Medicare for all” or something akin to it.
As RealClearPolitics reported last week, 17 out of 24 Democrat candidates for November’s elections, who have already gotten through the primary process in swing districts, support either “Medicare for all,” or some other form of single-payer or universal coverage. This doesn’t include the currently famous Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, mind you, who isn’t exactly in a swing district — although, if the second-most visible proponent of “Medicare for all” were in a contended election, her plan to pay for this with jet fighters the military doesn’t want (or whatever) would be even more hilarious.
Anthony Brindisi, running in upstate New York against incumbent Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney, has come out swinging for some form of single-payer system. “I want to see a system where everybody can have health insurance in the country,” he said. “Whether we call it single-payer or Medicare for All, there’s lots of different ideas out there.”
“Health care is a right, not a privilege,” reads the website of Jason Crow, the challenger to Colorado Republican Rep. Mike Coffman and a supporter of Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act. “We must not only protect hard-won gains under the ACA, but also work towards universal health care.”
He makes it clear that he doesn’t want to dismantle or change employer-provided health care, mind you, but he promises a vague “fight for a public option.” In other words, he’s writing the script for “If You Like Your Doctor 2: Electric Boogaloo.”
These aren’t candidates running in safe seats. They’re the ones hoping to unseat Republicans and return the Democrats to the majority in the lower house of Congress. If this is what they believe will sway voters in moderate places in America, just imagine what Democrats in safe liberal districts think.
Actually, we don’t need to imagine. We have Vox for that:
Yes, $32.6 trillion is “kind of a bargain.”
“Mercatus is projecting a $32 trillion increase in federal spending, above current projected government expenditures, from 2022 to 2031,” Dylan Scott writes. “In terms of overall health care spending in the United States over the same period, however, they are actually projecting a slight reduction.
“There is the rub. The federal government is going to spend a lot more money on health care, but the country is going to spend about the same.”
First, this projection is again based on our current course of health care spending, which — I don’t think I’ll find anyone who disagrees with me — is unsustainable. Then there’s the fact that this number is a conservative estimate, which Scott doesn’t exactly stress, for reasons I think we can all probably imagine.
He does mention, however, that the number is based on “some assumptions that could vary the actual cost quite a bit.” For instance, the assumption that doctors would be paid at Medicare rates, which are lower than that of private insurance. If Medicare becomes a de facto single payer system, that could change — and “it could affect the price tag significantly.” Yes, I would say so.
Nevertheless, Scott was already jumping on what’s quickly becoming the stock liberal argument in regards to this study: That conservatives are using big, scary numbers to try to invoke this demagogic construct we like to call “reality.”
“This is where politics enters into the mix,” Scott writes. “Conservatives are going to recite that large-sounding cost as often as they can. They were already jumping on it Monday morning. Many Americans still hold real reservations about making Big Government any bigger.”
And there’s a good reason. The Mercatus Center’s study specifically states there’s no way to pay for this even if you double individual and corporate federal tax rates. That’s apparently a bargain to Vox. (Oh, my bad — “kind of a bargain.”)
What else do you need to know to realize that the opposition party is headed in a ruinous direction, either for themselves or for America?
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