Sen. Bernie Sanders'Medicare for all plan would boost government health spending by $32.6 trillion over 10 years, requiring historic tax hikes, says a study released Monday by a university-based libertarian policy center.
A new report on Bernie Sanders'Medicare for All plan finds an whopping cost for the federal government.
The study contains assumptions, and there are numerous political and practical concerns in shifting the burden of healthcare payments to the federal government.
Sanders' plan builds on Medicare, the popular insurance program for seniors.
"The insurance industry ['s]... main function in life is not to make people well, but to make stockholders incredibly rich", he added.
"Enacting something like "Medicare for all" would be a transformative change in the size of the federal government", according to analysis author Charles Blahous.
The Mercatus Center receives funding from the Koch brothers, prominent conservative donors, and Charles Koch is on the center's board.
"I would never have expected the Mercatus Center to produce a document that claims extending Medicare to the entire population is the proverbial $20 bill lying on the sidewalk".
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"If every major country on earth can guarantee health care to all, 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", Sanders said. His office has not released a cost analysis.
Sanders has not done a cost analysis of his legislation, but on Monday he criticized the Mercatus study, calling it "grossly misleading and biased". "But, $32.6 trillion in higher federal spending and taxes over 10 years, which sounds scary". Blahous says the report is his own work, not the Koch brothers'.
What that translates to is what Medicare for All advocates have been saying all along: Under a single-payer system, Americans would get more quality care for more people at less cost. Even if Democrats manage to take control of both the House and Senate, a narrow majority with a Republican in the White House would make it hard to enact this kind of legislation.
But Sanders' idea has broad rank-and-file support among Democrats, and polls show it also appeals to many independents. Those studies found increases in federal spending over 10 years that ranged from $24.7 trillion to $34.7 trillion. And for Business Insider, Bob Bryan wrote that "while the price tag for the federal government would increase, the total cost of healthcare would go down while also providing healthcare to more than 30 million uninsured Americans".
Robert Graboyes, a senior research fellow and health care scholar at the center who read Blahous's report through its production, said the report doesn't "predict" $2 trillion in savings.
The savings would come from a variety of places, such as the government's ability to leverage its bargaining power into lower prescription drug costs and mandating that all healthcare providers take the lower Medicare payment rate. It also banks on saving trillions by streamlining administration. But based on the Mercatus model, tens of millions of currently uninsured Americans would have access to healthcare and the USA as a whole would end up spending less than it is expected to right now.
But Graboyes warned that, according to the report, even doubling all now projected federal individual and corporate income tax collections would be "insufficient" to finance the costs of Medicare-for-All. Blahous starts with current projections about how much the country will spend on health care between 2022 and 2031.
The Koch brothers have invested billions of dollars in a decades-long campaign to turn public opinion against necessary reforms, such as the establishment of a single-payer health care system in the United States.
He was previously an instructor at Massachusetts Institute of the Technology, and an associate professor at New York University. It's presented by the International Congress of Mathematicians and comes with a C$15,000 (£8,800) cash prize.
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