Sanders Proposes Medicare for All, Can't Say How Much It Costs

Posted September 14, 2017

A lonely march to bring Canadian-style, single-payer health care to the United States is a little less lonely these days, with a sudden stampede on the left to get behind Bernie Sanders' so-called medicare-for-all bill. SandersThe Hill's 12:30 Report Bernie Sanders's "Medicare for all" bill needs to pass Clinton "dumbfounded" by Comey letter days before election MORE's "Medicare for all" plan. It now has about 15 co-sponsors attaching their name to the legislation, including the party's reputed presidential aspirants.

Among the co-sponsors who are also possible presidential contenders are Democratic Sens.

Why now? Polls show support for single-payer began graduallyincreasing around the start of the 2016 campaign.

Notably, the momentum behind Medicare for All is part of a broader shift among Democrats, who seem to be coalescing around a set of progressive ideas that would have been almost impossible to imagine the party establishment putting forward just a few years ago.

This doesn't mean that changing American health care isn't "going to take a lot of work".

Some Republicans are still working to pare back Obamacare. Republicans are also insisting on easing the Obama law's coverage requirements, which Democrats don't want to do. But patients would also likely seek more treatments and services under single-payer, and, as Vox notes, the prices now paid by Medicaid under Sanders' plan would go up.

Republicans are preparing for that fight. At Tuesday's leadership news conference, Sen.

"This is where the country has got to go", Sanders said in an interview with the Washington Post.

Republicans say single-payer health care countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom face poor quality of care and long wait times to see a doctor.

But rather than reopening old wounds and refighting past battles, maybe it would be healthier to reflect on how far Democrats have come since the beginning of 2016 and how the progressive wing is now ascendant in the party at the grass roots, and to consider the contributions that Sanders' campaign made toward building a more progressive party.

Polling on the issue makes it obvious why Republicans focus on the fiscal effects. "That's because the US government allows over 30 percent of health care costs today to go to pay the insurance industry's administrative overhead", said AHF General Counsel and Chief of Public Affairs Tom Myers.

But mention taxes, and the support plummets.

The deadline, he continued, has to do with whether the vote can be passed with 50 votes or if it must go to 60. A bill that would possibly add millions to a program paid for by the federal government would be unlikely to do the same. Gerald Friedman concluded that it would take a six-per-cent tax hike on top-earning households, a three-per-cent hike on lower-earning households and smaller taxes for different types of stock trades ranging from 0.1 per cent to 0.5 per cent. This is the case in other nations with single-payer, and it may soon be the case with Medicare if the IPAB process is triggered. "Who knows? But offering pie-in-the-sky ideas like a full repeal of Obamacare with no replacement have worked, so I wonder if Americans would be willing to give the idea a try".

Although Congress just comprehensively reformed our national health policy in 2010 with the Affordable Care Act, the issue is once again ripe for discussion.

The line-up of cosponsors includes a handful of senators pundits have eyed as potential Democratic presidential candidates in 2020, including Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of NY.

The slog ahead remains huge.

Democratic Rep. Peter Welch, Vermont's sole member of the House, has been a cosponsor of single-payer legislation every year since being elected in 2006. Meanwhile, Democrats running in tough races in 2018 are less likely to get behind the idea.

"We should understand that everyone-all-should receive the healthcare they need regardless of where they come from or their zip code", said Sen. Claire McCaskill, Debbie Stabenow and Jon Tester were likewise skeptical of the proposal. "I don't think you can ever reasonably think about it that way".

Another Democrat proposed a more flexible fix through the magic of federalism.

The Kaiser Family Foundation reports a "modest increase" in support for single-payer coverage in recent years, with "substantial" opposition.