Bernie-Backed Medicare For All Plan Would Save Trillions — If You Cherry Pick Your Facts

A think tank, backed by the Koch Brothers, released an economic evaluation of Bernie Sanders’ Medicare For All plan this past week. As you might imagine, it wasn’t all roses and daffodils.

However, several left-wing publications who read the study and are sympathetic to the policy’s main supporter, Sanders, decided to hone in on one component of the document:

If you think it is odd that publications claiming socialist and progressive bonafides would be on the same side of the health care issue as the Koch Brothers … well, you’d be right. In reality, those on the left decided to mine the report from the Mercatus Center for anything that could be used to suit their ends.

What they chose was a red herring.

The Mercatus Center study indicates that the implementation of such a plan should be expected to increase federal spending by $32.6 trillion in its first ten years. Funding this plan, which would increase federal healthcare costs by 10.7 percent of GDP, requires more than doubling all federal individual and corporate income tax receipts.

For reference, current total federal spending is $4.4 trillion per year, or 21 percent of GDP.

The study also assumes, given all factors, that providers would be required to accept Medicare reimbursement rates for all services. That rate presently affords those providers — hospitals and physicians alike — only about 60 percent of what they receive from private insurance.

The Mercatus study points out that at current reimbursement rates, 80 percent of hospitals will be losing money by 2019 paying Medicare reimbursement rates on existing patients. So, the rates would either have to increase substantially or timely access to care would be subjected to “significant disruptions,” a.k.a. much longer wait times.

And even then, the study’s projections are stated to be lower than what the actual costs would be.

So how did this report win left-wing accolades? Because the total cost of health care expenses under the current U.S. system would be greater than those in the ideal state represented in the Sanders’ plan.

If every doctor accepted 40 percent less in fees — a rate that would remain unadjusted for the next decade — and saw more patients than ever before, the plan might save money over ten years. But others were quick to point out the flawed logic:

Writing for the National Review, Charles C.W. Cooke points out that the new rules would require the violation of that singular statement from former President Barack Obama that echoes hollow all these years later: “If you like your plan, you can keep it.” As outlined in the study’s assumptions, to save money, Medicare For All requires private insurance for none.

The study also assumes lower administrative costs than they believe realistic, which would lead to “substantial additional cost associated with improper payments” — or, in lay terms, more Medicare fraud.

Beyond these damning factors, what none of the Bernie-faithful acknowledge is that a shortage of healthcare providers of all stripes already exists, and that this problem will only get worse as more in the boomer generation retire.

That problem has a compounding effect: as the biggest generation in the workforce retires, they leave jobs no one is poised to fill, while also themselves needing the services their roles previously accommodated.

This increasing demand would lead to substantially higher prices for services rendered, and there simply aren’t the educators available to train another generation.

Yet, rather than acknowledge the decidedly cautionary message that the study emphasizes in its abstract, Sanders seemed to find reason to toot his own horn.

Of course, all of the above celebrators failed to acknowledge that the left-leaning Urban Institute came to the same conclusion as Mercatus.

According to their own study, national health expenditures would increase by $6.6 trillion between 2017 and 2026 and that “proposed taxes appear to be too low to fully finance the plan.”

It’s the same reason that Vermont and Colorado have decided against pursuing similar single-payer plans.

Nobody can find a way to pay for it.

What do you think?

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