‘Medicare for All’ Gets a Hard Look

While there are many drawbacks to the endlessness of the 2020 presidential campaign, there is at least one significant advantage to it: that along with all the bombast and the blather, some issues do get examined, and some of the wonderful plans that candidates have proposed get exposed to serious scrutiny.

That is what has been happening in recent days to, among others, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who have built their bids for the nomination of the Democratic party in no small part on extravagant promises of Medicare-for-All.

Fellow presidential wannabe South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg did everyone the favor of backing Warren against the wall in a recent debate, accusing her of being evasive.

“Your signature, senator, is to have a plan for everything — except for this,” he said. “No plan has been laid out to explain how a multitrillion-dollar hole in this Medicare-for-All plan that Senator Warren is putting forward is supposed to get filled in.”

Buttigieg isn’t the only one taking a hard look at the health-care plans.

On Monday, the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) published an analysis of several possible ways to fund the estimated $30 trillion needed to pay for “Medicare-for-All.” They considered a 32% payroll tax, a 25% income surtax and a 42% value-added tax. These methods could all raise $30 trillion, the report said, according to Fox News, but there is no way for the federal government to bring in that much money simply by taxing rich people.

“There is not enough annual income available among higher earners to finance the full cost of ‘Medicare-for-All,’” it concludes. “On a static basis, even increasing the top two income tax rates (applying to individuals making over $204,000 per year and couples making over $408,000 per year) to 100 percent would not raise $30 trillion over a decade.”

An accompanying chart lists the tax-the-rich funding option as “IMPOSSIBLE.”

In other words, the proposition that Medicare-for-All can be financed by taxing the rich is not just pie-in-the-sky, it’s lie-in-the-sky: It’s a lie that it can be paid for out of the pockets of the rich.

It is worth bearing in mind when discussing this that health-care is the largest industry in the country and a significant part of the national economy. As such, any major reform necessitates careful examination of the vast complexities involved, and the multifarious opportunities for gumming up the works even worse than they already are.

The scale of these proposals must be appreciated. It’s not a quick fix for anything. “If we were to move everyone onto Medicare, that would be a ten-year project,” A. James Lee, health economist at AJL Health Economics, told Hamodia.

Besides the unforeseen consequences of such radical tampering with the economy are some foreseen consequences:

“The Sanders bill (S.1129) would abolish nearly all existing private and employer-sponsored health plans,” says Dr. Robert E. Moffit, senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation, “as well as the major government health-care programs, including Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the ACA insurance plans, and Tri-Care, the program for military dependents.”

The Democratic candidates for president are promising to do better than Obamacare. They want to move forward from what Obama called “change we can believe in” to change we can’t believe in.

And it’s inaccurate to claim that critics of their ideas are simply uncaring, affluent elitists, and that the Democrats have only the interest of the people at heart. Such insinuations are a ploy to divert attention from the yawning impracticalities of these programs, to discourage anyone from asking the basic, hard questions that must be asked.