Sen. Bernie Sanders' Medicare for all plan would boost government health spending by $32.6 trillion over 10 years, requiring historic tax hikes, says a study released Monday by a university-based libertarian policy center.
Sanders responded to the study by speaking out against the Mercatus Center's conservative board members, the Koch brothers from Koch Industries. The plan builds on existing Medicare legislation, covering all US residents and eliminating copays and deductibles for medical expenses. Analysis by the libertarian Mercatus Center projects that under Sanders' plan, "federal healthcare commitments would equal approximately 10.7 percent of GDP in 2022" and then rise to almost 12.7 percent of GDP in 2031.
Blahous, who was a senior economic adviser to former President George W. Bush and a public trustee of Social Security and Medicare during the Obama administration, said none of the critics have found anything fundamentally wrong with his analysis. "I suspect that that is not what the Koch brothers meant to do, but that is what's in the study of the Mercatus Center".
But Sanders is right that the study concludes that his plan would reduce overall spending on health care in the United States.
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"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 done a cost analysis, a spokesman 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".
Yevgeniy Feyman of the conservative Manhattan Institute told Vox that those assumptions are very much in question: "Lower spending is driven by lower provider payment rates, drug savings, and administrative cost savings". Its findings are similar to those of several independent studies of Sanders' 2016 plan.
Its projections suggested that if the plans were enacted in 2018 and implemented between 2022 and 2031, it would cost $32.6 trillion over 10 years.
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Also called "single-payer" over the years, Medicare for all reflects a longtime wish among liberals for a government-run system that covers all Americans.
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". It also banks on saving trillions by streamlining administration.
Medicare-for-All, also known as single-payer healthcare, has become increasingly popular among Democrats, including progressive candidates such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who pulled off a shocking primary upset last month in New York's 14th Congressional District and made the issue a central part of her platform.
Other provisions of the plan are expected to drive up spending, including increased services covered by the insurance and covering millions of uninsured Americans.
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The study found US health care spending under Sanders' plan would drop over time - about $300 billion lower in 2031. Doubling federal individual and corporate income tax receipts would not cover the full cost, the study said. In that case, the USA would spend about $400 billion more in 2031. In a special study published by The Economist in April, the magazine argued in in favor of a universal health care system, stating that poor and rich would benefit from it.