Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Bernie Sanders mocks Koch brothers after 'grossly misleading' Medicare for All study

Jacob Lew Charles Blahous Thomas E. Perez Charles Blahous Thomas E. Perez
Gustavo Carr | 02 August, 2018, 19:44

A study found that Senator Bernie Sanders' "Medicare for All" health care plan would cost Americans a laughable $32.6 trillion.

Sanders calls the study misleading and points to the conservative Koch Brothers' connections to the center.

"Medicare for All" would diminish the role of the insurance industry while building on Medicare to cover all US residents without requiring copays or deductibles, the Associated Press reports.

The US could insure 30 million more Americans and virtually eliminate out-of-pocket health care expenses while saving $2 trillion in the process, according to a new report about Medicare for All released by the libertarian Mercatus Center.

Republicans such as House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., are correct that enacting Sanders' single-payer plan would add trillions to government books, by placing all Americans on one government health insurer, according to both the study's author and Sanders himself. Blahous was a senior economic adviser to President George W. Bush and a public trustee of Social Security and Medicare during the Obama administration. The Mercatus Center receives funding from the Koch brothers, prominent conservative donors, and Charles Koch is on the center's board.

"If every major country on earth can guarantee health care to all, and 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", Mr Sanders said. 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".

Mr Sanders' plan would provide coverage for various elements of health care, including preventative to emergency care, mental health and substance abuse services and prescription medications - and all by a federally administered single-player health system. All those people seeing doctors and going to the hospital will drive up health spending over the years, but the legislation is created to offset those costs through lower provider payment rates, drug savings and administrative cost savings.

Mr Sanders' office has not immediately responded to The Independent's request for comment on the study's projections.

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He also invited the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox to appoint a lawyer to appear at the hearing and present the case to the judge. The judges announced they had dismissed Robinson's appeal in respect of the contempt finding at Canterbury Crown Court.

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.

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.

Paying for such a system would require a historic increase in taxes - and Blahous writes that "doubling of all now projected federal individual and corporate income tax collections would be insufficient to finance the added federal costs of the plan". Looking ahead to the 2020 election, Democrats are debating whether single-payer should be a "litmus test" for national candidates.

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.

But other provisions would tend to drive up spending, including coverage for almost 30 million uninsured people, no deductibles and copays, and improved benefits, including dental, vision and hearing.

Medicare often pays much less than private insurance, but more than Medicaid.

The findings are roughly in line with other efforts to estimate the costs of a universal health care system similar to Medicare.

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