'Medicare for All' from Bernie Sanders could cost trillions, study says

Bernie Sander’s ‘Medicare For All’ Would Cost $32.6 Trillion, Study Projects

Bernie Sander’s ‘Medicare For All’ Would Cost $32.6 Trillion, Study Projects

Bernie Sanders (I-VT) pointed out in a video for Twitter, a study by the Mercatus Center - which is "significantly funded" by the Koch Brothers - found that, in a ten-year period, Medicare for All would save Americans $2 trillion. On page 18 of the paper, in a section titled "Effects on National Health Expenditures and the Federal Budget", came mention that under the Sanders plan "national personal health care costs decrease by less than 2 percent, while total health expenditures decrease by only 4 percent, even after assuming substantial administrative cost savings".

"The Urban Institute, which is left-of-center, also found that the Sanders plan would cost $32 trillion", he said, referring to the group's 2016 report concluding then-presidential-candidate Sanders's plan would have increased federal expenditures by $32 trillion between 2017 and 2026.

"Enacting something like "Medicare for all" would be a transformative change in the size of the federal government", said Charles Blahous, the study's author. The study - written by Charles Blahous, a former official in President George W. Bush's administration - notes that this price tag would not be covered by doubling what the government now takes in through individual and corporate taxes.

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, 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.

"This grossly misleading and biased report is the Koch brothers response to the growing support in our country for a "Medicare for all" programme", the veteran Vermont senator said. His office has not released a cost analysis.

Charles Blahous, the study's author, insisted it was his own work and denied they had been involved in its creation.

"Health care costs, even for those who have health insurance, are endangering tens of millions of people every day in this country", said National Nurses Union co-president Jean Ross, RN.

As Common Dreams reported, Medicare for All is also gaining steam on Capitol Hill, with more than 70 House Democrats joining the newly formed Medicare for All Caucus, which will devote significant energy and resources to studying what it would take to implement a single-payer system in the USA and guarantee healthcare to all Americans as a right. Single-payer systems in many European countries demonstrate that they can reduce overall national health spending, but that does not mean that a Democratic administration could implement one without incurring an huge political backlash, said Harold Pollack, a health-care expert at the University of Chicago.

The Mercatus analysis estimated the 10-year cost of Medicare for all from 2022 to 2031, after an initial phase-in. Its findings are similar to those of several independent studies of Sanders' 2016 plan.

Kenneth Thorpe, a health-policy professor at Emory University in Atlanta who was previously a senior health-policy adviser in the Clinton administration, wrote one of those studies and said the Mercatus analysis reinforced them. "Even though people don't pay premiums, the tax increases are going to be enormous".

"In the process of moving the money from private insurers to a national health care system, you're actually saving $2 trillion by making the system more efficient", he told ABC News.

The Mercatus study also takes issue with a key cost-saving feature of the plan - that hospitals and doctors will accept payment based on lower Medicare rates for all their patients. Savings from streamlined administration would be even greater, almost $1.6 trillion.

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.

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