So-called ‘Medicare for All’ gets its 15 minutes of infamy

Last week, the House Rules Committee held a landmark hearing on “Medicare for all.” The idea’s advocates championed the hearing as a major step towards providing Americans universal, government-run healthcare.

A day later, the Congressional Budget Office delivered an analysis that detailed just how destructive single-payer healthcare would be.

The transition to single-payer would be a logistical nightmare — “complicated, challenging, and potentially disruptive,” as the CBO report put it. That’s an understatement. “Medicare for all” would outlaw private insurance and give the government responsibility for handling every single medical claim for just about every American patient. Only those currently covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Indian Health Service would be untouched by the new “Medicare for all” system.

The feds can scarcely handle administrative tasks for existing Medicare beneficiaries, which represent 15% of the U.S. population. Medicare loses more than $50 billion a year to fraud.

The CBO report also said it was unclear whether the supply of physicians would be “adequate” to meet the demand for care under single-payer. “Patients might face increased wait times and reduced access to care,” per the CBO. That would depend on factors like payment rates.

“Medicare for all” envisions paying hospitals, doctors, and other healthcare providers at Medicare’s rates, which are about 40% below those for private insurance. Providers will almost certainly respond by curtailing the supply of care they’re willing to deliver. Already, 22% of physicians limit the number of Medicare patients they’ll see — or refuse to see them at all.

Finally, “Medicare for all” would be expensive. The CBO was not asked to provide a cost estimate, but its report said “Medicare for all” would “significantly increase government spending and require substantial additional government resources.”

In other words, massive tax increases.

The House Budget Committee will host a hearing of its own on “Medicare for all” in May. Will it level with the public on the multitrillion-dollar cost of the proposal? Don’t hold your breath.

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.

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