"Medicare for All polls well," they tell us. And they're right -- insofar as that slogan, absent any additional information, can attract superficially strong public support. Once you start to tell voters that this policy would require huge across-the-board tax increases, would increase wait times and slash options for care, and would uproot them from their current arrangements, approval craters. Here's a reminder of that dynamic from earlier this year:
Survey shows support for 'Medicare for all’ plunges when people are asked if they’d pay higher taxes or put up with treatment delays to get it. https://t.co/DgIKAQYOsG— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) January 23, 2019
Americans initially support “Medicare-for-all,” 56 percent to 42 percent. However, those numbers shifted dramatically when people were asked about the potential impact, pro and con. Support increased when people learned “Medicare-for-all” would guarantee health insurance as a right (71 percent) and eliminate premiums and reduce out-of-pocket costs (67 percent). But if they were told that a government-run system could lead to delays in getting care or higher taxes, support plunged to 26 percent and 37 percent, respectively.
Remember the uproar when Obamacare failed to keep its core promise that people could retain their existing plans and doctors, betraying millions of Americans on the individual market? The House and Senate single-payer "Medicare for All" bills would impact close to 180 million people who receive coverage through their employers or buy directly from insurers, outlawing their coverage. You could not keep your plan; your plan would become illegal. This reality would be hugely disruptive, ripping trusted plans away from tens upon tens of millions of households, in favor of an all-new government bureaucrat-run system -- which, again, would necessitate enormous tax increases on every single US family and business to prop up. There's a reason why Kamala Harris has been spinning like a top ever since telling the truth about eliminating private insurance. People hate that idea. And, fascinatingly, the people most supportive of 'Medicare for All' (ie, Democratic voters) don't seem to realize what its consequences would be:
From new Dem poll: About 3/4 of Democrats think “Medicare for All” would let anyone buy Medicare who wants to, while allowing others to stay on their private insurance. https://t.co/rXa3gmnij3 pic.twitter.com/5WlLGGVwhb— Ariel Edwards-Levy (@aedwardslevy) June 17, 2019
Only 27 percent of Democrats, the group most likely to back "Medicare for All," understand what their own policy preference would do. They strongly believe that it would be optional. In fact, it would be mandatory under Democratic bills. I'd also note that "only" expanding existing Medicare as an opt-in presents serious problems, considering that the program already knocking on the door of fiscal insolvency. Republicans are the only group polled who recognize what single-payer healthcare would involve, in terms of universal and compulsory compliance. And even among GOP voters, a sizable chunk still miss this crucial point, as do a hefty majority of independents. In other words, this is a messaging roadmap for single-payer opponents. Pound away at choice-free, mandatory switches for every single American. And as Allahpundit notes, this isn't the only survey demonstrating this mass misconception:
"Unchanged." Astonishing. Pay special attention to that second line. Nearly 70 percent of Democrats and a majority of independents believe that Democrats' 'M4A' plans would allow people to "keep their current plans" provided "through their jobs." Fact check: Absolutely false. The gap between perception and reality is a gargantuan political liability just waiting to be exploited, if and when this policy debate actually occurs. And politicians, like Harris, who try to hide the ball on the "outlawing private insurance" component of their plan do so at their peril. This is part of a Philip Klein column I've quoted before, but is once again relevant to this discussion:
As for the idea of "supplemental" private coverage being legal, here's what that means. Under the Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., plan that Harris supports, private companies would be barred from selling insurance that duplicates the benefits offered by the government plan. While that technically allows room for private insurance, given the wide range of benefits that the government plan promises to cover, it would be a very small amount room.
Here's more on the quandary in which Democrats will be mired if they ever seriously pursue the single payer legislation they've been promising their (apparently confused) base:
The appeal of the phrase "Medicare for all" is that it's vague and can satisfy different constituencies. But that also complicates efforts to communicate what it actually is, and creates a false sense of unity https://t.co/L245X1jfff— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) June 18, 2019
Parting thought: The arguments against single payer are increasingly obvious and potent. But what healthcare policies might the GOP affirmatively run on? Anyone?