With the Kavanaugh confirmation process thankfully behind us, all eyes are now on the coming mid-term elections. Surveys show the economy and healthcare are the two issues of greatest interest to voters. Since the economy is booming that issue is solidly in the Republicans’ favor. That leaves healthcare as a toss-up issue.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer declared recently that health care is the issue that will define the November elections. Obviously he’s hoping it will bring victory for Democratic candidates.
But just as the Kavanaugh confirmation process ultimately may prove advantageous to voter turnout for Republicans, the Democratic message on healthcare may be a GOP winner. President Trump has certainly picked up that theme in an Op-ed written for USA Today in which he said, “Democrats would gut Medicare with their planned government takeover of American health care.”
This rhetoric takes a page from the usual Democratic play-book which stresses the politics of fear, especially for seniors.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont nearly won the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 on a platform of socialism including government takeover of healthcare he calls Medicare For All. He has introduced a bill by the same name which has been endorsed by 16 senators including leading 2020 presidential contenders Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Elizabeth Warren.
A companion bill in the House has 120 co-sponsors, which is nearly two-thirds of the current Democratic caucus. Also on board are Democratic gubernatorial candidates such as Gavin Newsom (California) and Andrew Gillum (Florida).
Despite this strong list of endorsement of socialized medicine in the Democratic leadership, Democrats claim Trump’s message is unfair because not every candidate has endorsed the single-payer plan. This suggests they are ashamed to admit (at least for now) this is their healthcare plan of the future.
Single-Payer Was Always the Plan
For those who have been paying attention to healthcare reform for years, this is disingenuous at best and deceitful at worst. Here is what I wrote in my book The ObamaCare Reality in 2014:
“It is well known that leading Democrats favor the socialized models of health care. No less than President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, are all on record as favoring single-payer or socialized medicine systems. They have admitted they would have pushed such a program for the United States if it were politically feasible when reforming our health care system during the debate in Congress in 2009 and 2010.”
ObamaCare was always a compromise for Democrats – better than the status quo but not achieving the complete government take-over of healthcare they favored. But they realized it was the best they could do. Their long-term hope has always been the collapse of ObamaCare and the implementation of single-payer healthcare to replace it when the political winds are favorable.
The Price of BernieCare
The Trump Op-ed quoted the work of the Mercatus Center’s Charles Blahous, former Social Security and Medicare trustee, who conservatively estimated the cost of BernieCare at $32.6 Trillion in the first ten years. The Wall Street Journal editorial board says that spending figure amounts to 10.7% of GDP in 2022 when the plan kicks in and then up from there! To put this in perspective, national defense spending (often derided as too expensive and wasteful) is a mere 3% of GDP today.
Blahous says, “Doubling all currently projected federal individual and all currently projected federal individual and corporate income tax collections would be insufficient to finance the added federal costs of the plan.”
WSJ says, “Liberals are griping that these estimates overlook what would be a decline in overall health spending, but Blahous goes out of his way to credit savings that would probably be illusory such as lower drug costs. As in every socialist system, the real “savings” would come from price controls and wait lists for many healthcare services. Have a cold? Come on in. A hip replacement or breast reconstruction? Get in line.”
They also say that’s the good news! “The truth is that BernieCare would essentially blow up the entire current health system. The Sanders bill would eliminate employer-sponsored insurance, which now covers some 150 million Americans. The sales pitch for that should be: If you like your healthcare plan, we won’t let you keep it.”
These are not outlandish claims by partisan observers. This is exactly what you get in any socialized medicine system in the world. Great Britain, Canada and Sweden all experience diminished quality of healthcare and severe delays in access to healthcare with similar systems. Each has recently had to approve private treatment of patients with government funding to alleviate unacceptable waiting times.
Democrats should continue their promotion of Medicare For All at their peril. Even Senator Sanders’ home state of Vermont had to reject this idea when it became obviously unaffordable and a recent referendum on single-payer in the blue state of Colorado was rejected by 80 percent of voters.