Published: Thu, August 02, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

'Medicare for all' bill estimated at $32.6 trillion

'Medicare for all' bill estimated at $32.6 trillion

Sen. Bernie Sanders' "Medicare for all" proposal would increase federal spending by $32.6 trillion over 10 years, according to a new analysis of the proposed legislation by a libertarian think tank.

Under Sanders' plan, all USA residents would have health coverage, with no copays or deductibles, and private insurers would be restricted to a minor role, the Associated Press reported. Blahous was a senior economic adviser to President George W. Bush and a public trustee of Social Security and Medicare during the Obama administration.

Two of America's richest men, billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch are known for supporting economically conservative causes.

But Sanders is right that the study concludes that his plan would reduce overall spending on health care in the United States.

"This grossly misleading and biased report is the Koch brothers response to the growing support in our country for a "Medicare for all" program", Sanders said. As an example, the senator cited reducing administrative costs he said was, "now taking place as a result of the billing, bureaucracy and and insatiable greed within the insurance industry". "Bernie Sanders' Medicare for All Act projects outlandish increases in the utilization of medical care, ignores vast savings under single-payer reform, and fails to even mention the extensive and well-documented evidence on single-payer systems in other nations-which all spend far less per person on health care than we do", Himmelstein and Woolhandler said.

In calculating his cost estimate, Blahous assumed that the new universal system would succeed in "dramatically reducing payments to health providers, in addition to substantially reducing drug prices and administrative costs".

The study found that the plan would reap substantial savings from lower prescription costs - $846 billion over 10 years - since the government would deal directly with drugmakers.

Mr Sanders' office has not immediately responded to The Independent's request for comment on the study's projections.

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Also called "single-payer" over the years, Medicare for all reflects a longtime wish among liberals for a government-run system that covers all Americans.

Sanders' plan - if he succeeds in implementing it - will instead "increase the share of that cost paid through taxes, rather than through insurance premiums or out of pocket costs, according to Axios". Single-payer systems in many European countries demonstrate that they can reduce overall national health spending, but that does not mean that a Democratic administration could implement one without incurring an enormous political backlash, said Harold Pollack, a health-care expert at the University of Chicago.

But other provisions would tend to drive up spending, including coverage for almost 30 million uninsured people, no deductibles and copays, and improved benefits, including dental, vision and hearing.

The Mercatus study takes issue with a key cost-saving feature of the plan: that hospitals and doctors would accept payment based on lower Medicare rates for all their patients.

But Graboyes warned that, according to the report, even doubling all now projected federal individual and corporate income tax collections would be "insufficient" to finance the costs of Medicare-for-All.

Medicare often pays much less than private insurance, but more than Medicaid. Most U.S. spending on health care is done through the private sector. "But over the long run, the Sanders people are very correct that you could implement a system like this that would be more disciplined, more economical and more fair than the current USA health system".

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