In a recent op-ed (“’Health Care for All,’ the path forward,” Apr. 25), James F. Burdick claims that our opposition to so-called “Medicare for All” is not in the “best interests of patients.” Instead, he argues for repealing the foundations of American health care — including employer-provided coverage, the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid — and starting over from scratch with a one-size-fits-all health care system run by Washington into which every American, whether young, old, sick or healthy, would be enrolled.
Thankfully, most Americans don’t agree. A national survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that a majority of Americans want to improve and build upon what’s working and fix what isn’t, not scrap our existing health care in favor of “Medicare for All.” Earlier this year, Kaiser found that support for Medicare for All plummets once Americans learn it would eliminate their existing coverage, lead to longer wait times and lower-quality care and force families to pay higher taxes to cover its astronomical costs.
Independent analysts estimate the price tag could be as high as $60 trillion over 10 years. The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget found that even a low-end estimate of $30 trillion “would mean increasing federal spending by about 60 percent (excluding interest)” and “require the equivalent of tripling payroll taxes or more than doubling all other taxes.” How is that in anyone’s best interests?
Today, roughly 90 percent of Americans are covered, and more than 217 million benefit from private coverage — including 180 million who receive coverage through their employers and 10 million who shopped for coverage in the marketplaces last year. More than 20 million seniors are enrolled in Medicare Advantage. Public opinion research shows that a majority of Americans are satisfied with their coverage and care.
“Medicare for All” would eliminate all of this, along with traditional Medicare and Medicaid. It would shift health care decisions away from patients and doctors and put them in the hands of Washington bureaucrats.
A better way to extend access to millions and control costs is to expand Medicaid in the few states that have not yet expanded the program, strengthen subsidies so Americans of all income levels can choose market-based coverage that fits their needs and use proven tools like reinsurance to stabilize premiums.
Every American deserves access to quality, affordable care. But one-size-fits-all “Medicare for All” is the wrong way to achieve that goal.
Lauren Crawford Shaver
The writer is executive director of Partnership for America’s Health Care Future.