By Karen Kidd
While some pundits predict early wins by progressive candidates such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York might be translating into a progressive stream into office this November, their advocacy of single-payer health care won’t fly, a West Coast free market advocate said during a recent interview.
“Medicare for all will not work in the U.S. nor in any state in the U.S.,” Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy President and CEO Sally C. Pipes said during a Tennessee Business Daily email interview. “Not in California, New York or Tennessee.”
Pipes has some first-hand experience with single-payer health care, which is government-paid health care.
“As a former Canadian who grew up under single-payer and worked at Canada’s Fraser Institute, we developed in the late 1980s a publication called ‘Waiting Your Turn: A Guide to Waiting Lists,’” Pipes said. “In 2017, over 1 million Canadians were on waiting lists, the highest number ever, and the waiting time from seeing a primary care doctor to getting treatment by a specialist was 21.2 weeks, the longest on record and more than double the 1993 wait time of 9.3 weeks.”
Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, based in San Francisco, is a free-market think tank founded in 1979. Pipes’ comments came about a month after 28-year-old Ocasio-Cortez scored an out-of-nowhere win in the New York Democrat primary against 10-term U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley, a longtime party boss in Queens. Shortly after her surprise win, Ocasio-Cortez, who campaigned for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) in 2016, said she hopes to sweep into Washington, D.C. “with an entire caucus of newly elected progressives.”
Crowley remains on the ballot on November, thanks to his win in the Working Families Party primary, but he said in a Twitter post that he will not be actively campaigning and that he supports Ocasio-Cortez’s general election race against Republican Anthony Pappas for the 14th Congressional District seat.
Meanwhile, other progressive candidates are on ballots in races across the nation. Before Ocasio-Cortez’s win in New York, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-New Mexico), who represents her state’s 1st congressional district, won the Democrat primary in the governor’s race. Sarah Smith, a progressive candidate running against Washington 9th Congressional District Rep. Adam Smith, is hoping to repeat Ocasio-Cortez’s success in the Pacific Northwest.
Progressive candidates are largely riding into office on the coat tails of Sanders and they parrot his Medicare for all advocacy, but Pipe said voters need to be wary of those proposals.
“If you look at Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for all plan that he released when he was running against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president, he never said how much his plan would cost or how it would be paid for,” Pipes said.
Though Sanders, a sponsor of the “Medicare for All Act of 2017,” never fessed up to that, Pipes referred to an Urban Institute forecast that projected such a plan would cost $32 trillion over 10 years, or $3.2 trillion a year.
“All of these plans would have to be paid for by increased income taxes, payroll taxes and higher taxes on the wealthy,” Pipes said. “The demand for health care would be greater than the funds government is willing to provide. As in Canada and the U.K., waiting lists would develop and care would be rationed.”
It’s something Tennesseans should think about, Pipes said.
“Tennessee does not want to go down this path,” she said. “It will be very costly. Massive tax increases will be needed to pay for it, wait lists will develop and care will be rationed.”