Baltimore Sun

Brian Griffiths: Medicare-for-all scheme is unhealthy

Brian Griffiths is editor-in-chief of

This week, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous brought Bernie Sanders to Baltimore for the rollout of his Medicare-for-all plan.

Sanders has been pushing his Medicare-for-all scheme in Congress and Jealous, who will tell you he agrees with Bernie Sanders a lot, will be proposing a state-based system funded by you, the Maryland taxpayer. Jealous has no idea how much it will cost to implement this Medicare-for-all scheme. He is already talking about an increase in the income tax or the sales tax to cover the enormous costs for the program.


The plan is based on the Sanders proposal, which in turn is based on Canada's disastrous single-payer health care system. The Daily Beast called the Sanders plan "Something between a well-intentioned fool's errand and a political pipe dream."

State-based Medicare-for-all has been attempted in three states, and it's failed in each of them. The evidence from these states does not bode well for the implementation of the dangerous scheme Jealous proposes.


The most aggressive program was Vermont's Green Mountain Care, established in 2011. It never got off the ground because Vermont's Democratic governor and Democratic legislature couldn't figure out how they were going to cover the proposed cost of $4.3 billion in a state with a $4.9 billion budget. Vermont was contemplating an 11.5 percent increase in state payroll taxes and a 9 percent increase in income taxes on individuals to fund it.

Democrats in California proposed a more expansive and expensive version with their Healthy California initiative. That bill required $200 billion in new spending, doubling California's already massive state budget, without identifying a funding mechanism. The New Republic pointed out, "In a state where Democrats have super-majorities in both legislative chambers and a Democratic governor, the conventional wisdom is that if California can't pass single-payer, it can't be passed anywhere."

In opposing the Healthy California initiative, the California Chamber of Commerce called it a "job killer" that would "result in significant new taxes on all Californians and California businesses."

Colorado is the one state that took the issue of single-payer health care to the ballot. Over two-thirds of Coloradans voted against the idea.

The plan would have replaced private health insurance for most Colorado residents, and it faced significant opposition on both sides of the aisle. It would have created $25 billion in new payroll taxes. Even accounting for new taxes, it was estimated the plan would still run an $8 billion deficit.

Discussions of the cost-prohibitive nature of these programs don't even address quality-of-care issues. Your health care options will be more limited and your quality of care will go down if Jealous sees his system implemented.

Medicare-for-all proponents look toward Canada as a model. But in Canada it is common for people to spend months or years waiting for treatment. Many Canadian patients die while on waiting lists for treatments that can be received routinely here in the United States.

The Jealous proposal would also likely encourage the adoption of assisted suicide. In Canada, pundits argue that prescribing suicide instead of palliative care would save hundreds of millions of dollars a year.


Jealous is proposing that your tax rates go up exponentially to pay for a health care system that would provide rationed care that would not cover all of your medical needs. You would likely be forced to change doctors, and it would take months to schedule an appointment with the doctors you can see. You would need to wait months to receive those procedures the system would cover, and you might wind up suffering needlessly waiting for tests or treatment that you could easily have received if you had private health insurance instead.

Higher taxes, rationed health care, a lower quality of life — the Ben Jealous Medicare-for-all scheme is hazardous to your health.

Brian Griffiths is editor-in-chief of Contact him via email at, on Twitter @BrianGriffiths or on Facebook at