Bernie Sander’s proposed single-payer national healthcare program is projected to cost the federal government $32.6 trillion over the next 10 years, requiring historic tax increases. The plan builds on existing Medicare legislation, covering all U.S. residents and eliminating copays and deductibles for medical expenses.
A study at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University conducted by senior research strategist Charles Blahous compiled the key findings of the proposed legislation and estimated its projected costs for the federal government.
According to the study, the effects of the Medicare for All Act, or M4A, would add approximately $32.6 trillion to the federal budget from 2022-2031. Additionally, the increase in federal healthcare commitments would equal 10.7 percent of GDP in 2022, climbing to 12.7 percent by 2031, and continuing to rise from there.
The aforementioned estimates assume that the legislation meets its goals of reducing payments to health providers and reducing both drug prices and administrative costs. Consequently, income tax collections would need to be twice as high to support the federal costs of the plan.
“Enacting something like ‘Medicare for all’ would be a transformative change in the size of the federal government,” said Charles Blahous.
Sanders responded to the study by speaking out against the Mercatus Center’s conservative board members, the Koch brothers from Koch Industries.
“If every major country on earth can guarantee health care to all, and achieve better health outcomes, while spending substantially less per capita than we do, it is absurd for anyone to suggest that the United States cannot do the same. This grossly misleading and biased report is the Koch brothers response to the growing support in our country for a ‘Medicare for all’ program.”
Charles Blahous responded that the study was his own work and not the Koch brothers’.
Kenneth Thorpe, a health policy professor at Emory University and a senior health policy adviser in the Clinton administration, added to the discussion, stating that people will end up paying more in taxes than they would save on premiums under the new plan.
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However, the plan includes a key cost-saving feature that would save the government billions of dollars over 10 years through reduced prescription costs. It also banks on saving trillions by streamlining administration.
Other provisions of the plan are expected to drive up spending, including increased services covered by the insurance and covering millions of uninsured Americans.
Bernie Sander’s plan represents the democratic support for a government-run healthcare system that covers all U.S. residents. The idea of the single-payer system has also taken hold as a litmus test for 2020 democratic presidential candidates, according to the National Review.