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The Questions Medicare for All Supporters Must Answer

April 17, 2019 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie
Sanders has officially unveiled the latest version of his plan for
a government-run health-care system. This year, his Medicare for
All legislation is co-sponsored by at least five of his fellow
presidential contenders: Senators Corey Booker, Kamala Harris,
Kirsten Gillibrand, and Elizabeth Warren, and Representative Eric
Swalwell. Several other prominent Democrats have voiced their
support for the concept, if not Sanders’s specific version of it.
And the polls show that voters might be receptive.

What’s more, there is a genuine need for health-care reform.
Obamacare remains deeply troubled, with costs rising, choices
restricted, and its promise of universal coverage unrealized.
Meanwhile, Republicans are divided, dispirited, and largely
clueless — opposed to Obamacare, but unable to formulate a
plan of their own.

Medicare for All, to a large extent, has filled the vacuum
created by that inability. But before we take it too seriously,
there are a few questions that supporters must answer:

How will you pay for it? We don’t yet know
exactly how much Sanders’s plan will cost, but the price is bound
to be high: Previous versions of the plan were estimated to cost
$32-38 trillion over the next ten years, and the senator’s latest
version would provide even more generous benefits. In fact, both
the legislation and the Sanders campaign’s summary of it are
extremely detailed about all the benefits the plan would provide.
It would cover virtually all hospital and physician care,
preventive services, mental-health services, dental and vision
care, prescription drugs, and medical devices. And, except for
brand-name drugs, there would be absolutely no deductible,
co-payment, or other out-of-pocket expenses. The plan would not
only provide far more extensive benefits than private insurance
plans or today’s Medicare; it would provide benefits in excess of
those offered by other national-health-care plans around the
world.

Bernie Sanders may
currently be riding a wave of political momentum, but his new
health-care plan remains untested.

But when it comes to paying for all these goodies, Sanders is
exceedingly vague. Neither the legislation nor his summary includes
a funding mechanism. Instead, Sanders calls for “a vigorous debate
as to the best way to finance our Medicare for All legislation.” As
far as I know, vigorous debates don’t pay the government’s
bills.

Sanders does provide a helpful list of possible tax hikes that
could be considered: a 7.5 percentage point increase in the payroll
tax; an income-based premium paid by all Americans (roughly a 4
percent income tax); significant increases in tax rates for those
earning more than $250,000 per year; increased corporate taxes; big
increases in the capital-gains tax; and a new wealth tax. Of
course, …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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