Joe Biden is no moderate, especially on healthcare

Joe Biden is no moderate, especially on healthcare

After months of campaigning, Joe Biden has emerged as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. Last week, he finally secured the endorsement of his chief rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Biden succeeded by positioning himself as a moderate alternative to Sanders and other Democratic candidates. But Biden’s agenda is anything but moderate. Just look at his healthcare plan.

Most recently, he suggested lowering Medicare’s eligibility age to 60. Doing so would make an additional 20 million people eligible for the program.

Medicare can scarcely cover the costs of its existing population of beneficiaries. The program’s hospital insurance fund will run dry by 2026. At that point, Medicare will have to cut payments to doctors and hospitals. Already, Medicare pays healthcare providers about 40% less than what private insurers pay.

Biden’s other major healthcare proposal is equally unfriendly to doctors and hospitals. He’s called for a new government-run plan to compete with private insurance companies. To keep premiums low, this “public option” would likely reimburse providers at Medicare’s low rates.

Private insurers wouldn’t be able to compete. As people drop their private coverage in favor of the cheaper public option, doctors and hospitals would see their revenues fall. Some providers would cut back on services to stay afloat, while others would close entirely. Already, one-quarter of rural hospitals are at high risk of closure. The public option could push them over the edge.

Biden’s healthcare agenda would knee-cap doctors and hospitals and push millions of people into incompetent government-run healthcare plans. His plan is simply a slower march to disastrous single-payer healthcare than Sanders’s “Medicare for all” plan.

So much for “moderation.”

Sally C. Pipes is president, CEO, and Thomas W. Smith fellow in healthcare policy at the Pacific Research Institute. Her latest book is False Premise, False Promise: The Disastrous Reality of Medicare for All (Encounter 2020). Follow her on Twitter @sallypipes.

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