Tuesday’s midterm elections will shape the future of healthcare.
A majority of Democrats running for House seats, a whopping 225 candidates, support “Medicare for all,” a single-payer system that would effectively outlaw private insurance and force virtually everyone into a government-run health plan. Sixteen Senate Democrats, including half a dozen senators considering presidential bids, cosponsor “Medicare for all” legislation introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
If the “blue wave” materializes, as most pollsters predict, it will incentivize any fence-sitting Democrats to go all-in on socialized medicine. Support for single-payer will become a litmus test in the party, and a major issue for Democrats in the 2020 election. Elected Democrats will face immense pressure to implement such a system if they regain control in D.C.
“Medicare for all” may prove to be a political winner, at least this fall. But if it’s ultimately enacted, patients will be the biggest losers. They’ll face rationed care and long wait times.
Just look at the United Kingdom’s government-run National Health Service. Hospitals are overcrowded and understaffed. Nearly half of urgent and emergency care services at England’s acute hospitals (which provide short-term care) are inadequate or require improvement, according to a recent report from the Care Quality Commission.
Last winter, nearly a quarter of patients at major emergency departments were unable to be admitted, transferred, or discharged within the NHS’ four-hour goal. That’s the worst performance in at least seven years.
Patients scheduled for treatment aren’t faring any better. Over the past seven years, the number of children’s operations canceled by the NHS has risen by 58 percent. And one in seven NHS hospital operations is canceled right before it’s supposed to occur — often because of a lack of beds or staff.
Terrible care wouldn’t be the only result of single-payer; it would also cause taxes to surge. “Medicare for all” would cost the federal government $32 trillion in its first ten years, according to an estimate from the Mercatus Center. Even doubling individual and corporate tax rates wouldn’t be enough to cover that cost.
“Medicare for all” would be an unmitigated disaster, leading to long waits, rationed care, and doctor shortages. Let’s hope voters realize that — before it’s too late.