The House Rules Committee held its first hearing about the Democrats' Medicare for All bill, introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) in the House and by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), for a second time, in the Senate. The "revamped" version of the bill boasts "comprehensive" health care coverage, including primary care, dental, vision, and other services, as well as no deductibles, no co-pays, etc. The Democratic led-committee was thrilled to share the news.
FACT: #MedicareForAll would cost patients much less than they currently pay in health care costs by eliminating premiums, copays, deductibles, and out of pocket expenses while providing every American with vision, hearing and dental coverage. pic.twitter.com/rrHInG9fFF— House Committee on Rules (@RulesDemocrats) April 30, 2019
It sounds pretty good, until you see the price tag or consider the lower quality of care. Representatives from the Mercatus Center and the Galen Institute were there to deliver the bad news.
Ady Barkan, a 32-year-old organizer who was diagnosed with ALS a few years ago, was first to testify in favor of the bill. He gave his testimony with the help of a computer, because the disease has taken his voice. He said Medicare for All was a necessity because it would provide the high quality care we deserve, save Americans' money, and cut down on administrative waste.
Barkan's story was tragic and compelling, but the folks on the anti-Medicare-for-All side were obligated to tell the panel just how much the Democrats' effort would cost. Dr. Charles Blahous of the Mercatus Center reported that the new net cost will be between $32.6 trillion and $38.8 trillion in the first 10 years, adding that the first number is "a very low estimate." By 2022, the program would consume 11 to 13 percent of GDP.
Galen Institute President Grace-Marie Turner added in her remarks that Medicare for All will also come with lower quality of care, such as what's been reported in England. Americans could expect rations, longer wait times, etc., she warned.
Another scary factor to consider is that, since the U.S. has never implemented something like this before, we don't know what we're getting into. Even Dr. Dean Baker, from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, who was there to testify in favor of Jayapal's measure, admitted that we would be "shooting in the dark." But it would be worth it "to see what happens when we make health care more available."
He argued that the legislation would come with administrative savings. With certain adjustments, we could get the tab down to 25 trillion, he suggested.
Sound more appealing now?
House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern gave us a bit of déjà vu when he declared, "People aren't going to lose their health care with Medicare for All." In an email Tuesday following the hearing, the House Republican Conference compared McGovern's remarks to President Obama's 2013 "Lie of the Year."
“If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”