‘Medicare-for-all’ would be hazardous to the health of seniors – Rationed care could be deadly

‘Medicare-for-all’ would be hazardous to the health of seniors – Rationed care could be deadly

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., had a run-in with the Greatest Generation on Aug. 12. Roberta Jewell, a resident at the Bickford Senior Living Center in Muscatine, Iowa, told the Democratic presidential hopeful to “leave our health care alone.”

Like many Americans, Jewell is reluctant to embrace the “Medicare-for-all” plans Harris and several of her Democratic colleagues have proposed. The Iowan is right to be wary. Medicare-for-all would destroy Medicare as we know it — and make it harder for seniors to access care.

Harris’s health care plan tries to be everything to everyone, from those agitating for a government takeover of the health insurance market to those who want to preserve a role for private coverage.

Her plan would move all Americans into a new, government-run health plan over 10 years. During that time, newborns and the uninsured would be automatically enrolled in Harris’s “new and improved” version of Medicare-for-all. Every American would also have the opportunity to buy into the new plan.

The funding scheme for her plan is dubious. She’d raise taxes on the wealthy, employers, and investors. But she promises to exempt people who make less than $100,000 from any tax hikes. Instead, she’d impose new taxes on every stock, bond, and derivative trade.

During the 10-year transition period, private insurers would be allowed to operate Medicare plans as long as they followed the government’s rules. Essentially, they could function like those that currently sell Medicare Advantage plans – but only for that 10-year window.

Harris envisions paying private insurers less than what it costs the conventional Medicare plan to operate. Given that Medicare pays health care providers something like 40 percent less than private insurers do, it’s unclear how many private insurers could afford to participate in Harris’s scheme.

They may simply decide it’s not worth selling coverage when their business will be outlawed within a decade.

Harris envisions paying private insurers less than what it costs the conventional Medicare plan to operate. Given that Medicare pays health care providers something like 40 percent less than private insurers do, it’s unclear how many private insurers could afford to participate in Harris’s scheme.

They may simply decide it’s not worth selling coverage when their business will be outlawed within a decade.

I’ve experienced the effects of such rationing firsthand. In Canada, my mother died of colon cancer after doctors delayed her colonoscopy in order to treat younger patients first.

Given the havoc it would wreak on our health care system, it’s no wonder Roberta Jewell objects to “Medicare-for-all.” She’s not alone. The more voters learn about it, the more they oppose it.

Sally C. Pipes is president, CEO, and Thomas W. Smith Fellow in Health Care Policy at the Pacific Research Institute. Her latest book is “The False Promise of Single-Payer Health Care” (Encounter 2018). Follow her on Twitter @sallypipes.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.