Five Senate Democrats are now publicly endorsing a government-run, single-payer health care system in a sign the party is quickly rallying to that goal, however the idea promises to be a financial and regulatory nightmare that should compel Republicans to revisit the issue and get it right before the 2018 elections.
On Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, announced he would support the “Medicare for All” legislation sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont.
“It’s time to simplify health care and lower patients’ costs, and embrace Medicare for All,” said Merkley, who is now the fifth Senate Democrat to join the cause publicly. In addition to Sanders, Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., are all co-sponsoring the bill.
In addition, roughly half the House Democrats are on board with the idea.
Heritage Foundation Senior Fellow Robert Moffit says the Democrats are making their moves now because Republicans failed to get their health care reforms passed in the Senate.
“The immediate reason is the abject failure of Senate Republicans – and it’s the Senate’s fault here – to enact a health care reform bill to repeal and at least partially replace Obamacare,” said Moffit.
“It has created a major health policy vacuum, so the liberals in Congress and elsewhere are ready to fill it, and they’re preparing now for a total government takeover of health care, which is a single-payer system,” said Moffit.
But while touting “Medicare for All” and health care as a right, Moffit says Americans should not miss what is really at stake here.
“What they are proposing is nothing short of a government monopoly over the financing and the delivery of health care,” said Moffit. “Ultimately what this means is that politicians will be in direct charge of health policy.”
He says Democrats in 2017 are making the exact opposite promise that President Obama made in 2009 and 2010, only this time they would actually keep it.
“When Obama promised he would not take away your plan, that turned out to be false, especially if you were in the individual market. Here the Democrats in the Senate – Warren, Sanders, Sen. Merkley, John Conyers in the House – they are telling you they are going to take away your health plan,” said Moffit.
With Medicare already in deep debt and staring at $33-44 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities, Moffit says adding the rest of the nation to the program would require a major wallop to the wallets of taxpayers.
He says California is an important test case. The state senate there has approved a single-payer plan that would result in a a spending hike of anywhere from 53-110 percent.
“Frankly, it’s whack job economics. The Senate legislative analysts themselves say that this will require a 15 percent payroll tax,” said Moffit.
Moffit also took aim at Merkley’s assertion that having Medicare for everyone would somehow simplify the health care system. He says the story of Medicare shows exactly the opposite.
“I think that Merkley is living in an alternative universe. Anyone who has had to deal with Medicare, members of the medical profession are very familiar with it. Medicare today is governed by tens of thousands of pages of rules, regulations, and guidelines and medical paperwork is eating up more and more of the time and energy and effort of physicians,” said Moffit.
“If you think that Medicare is a model of administrative efficiency or that Medicare is somehow simple, you’ve got to have rocks in your head. you’re living on another planet. Medicare is the Godzilla of government regulation,” said Moffit.
“It imposes enormous administrative costs on doctors, hospitals, clinics, and home health agencies, who have to bear the real costs of complying with Medicare’s regulatory systems,” said Moffit.
Moffit says this is also another clear signal of how far Democrats have moved to the left.
“They’re consumed by identity politics. They’re eager to impose political correctness as part of an aggressive, counter-cultural agenda. Now their economic agenda boils down to heavier taxation, higher spending, larger government programs, and even greater government control over our personal lives. Frankly, if they want to have that debate, I’m ready to go,” said Moffit.
He says the key to foiling a complete government takeover of health care is for Republicans to roll up their sleeves and do health care legislation right this time. He says failure is not an option.
“This is not an optional matter. The individual market in the United States is in crisis. They have no options here. It’s not a question of what the hell they want to do, pardon me. They have got to do their job. If they don’t do their job, millions of Americans get hurt, especially the millions of middle class Americans who today do not get any subsidies whatsoever,” said Moffit.
“Congress has got to get its act together. They have no choice,” he added.