Sometimes, the diagnosis is right, but the prescription is wrong.
U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, correctly diagnoses the American health care system, but her prescription will only make things worse.
“The state of our health care system is absolutely atrocious,” she said recently. “We believe that the market is broken, and that is the core idea here — that we’re trying to fix it.”
Her fix? She’s filed a Medicare-for-All bill that already has 106 co-sponsors (all progressive Democrats).
Here’s where she goes wrong. The system is broken, but it’s broken because of government interference, not the lack of it.
As you track the increase in costs for our health care system in this country, you will find that each new government program contributes to its escalation in expense. The Affordable Care Act, which cost trillions of dollars, never accomplished what it set out to do—yet it transformed government and government’s role in our lives and our health care system.
Medicare-for-All would double down on this.
So she’s sticking with what works—for now. Rep. Jayapal introduced the bill with no funding mechanism; she says she will release suggested funding mechanisms at a later date. Some potential mechanisms suggested include a tax on high earners and mandated employer contributions.
It’s not just Congress. Medicare-for-All continues to generate buzz in presidential races, as well. Several Democratic presidential hopefuls have heralded the concept; in fact, it seems to have become a kind of litmus test for their progressive bona fides.
The truth, of course, is that calling this bill Medicare-for-All is misleading—intentional or not. This bill is not an expansion of Medicare but the creation of something altogether new. Any contributions made to the existing Medicare program would be rolled into this new nationalized system. It would also gobble up all other government-run health plans (Medicaid, VA) and even largely outlaw private insurance.
A key part of this proposal is that private entities that duplicate any aspect of the law would be breaking the law. One clause clearly states, “to sell health insurance coverage that duplicates the benefits provided under this Act” is unlawful.
This sweeping reform will nationalize the practice of medicine and make all physicians (essentially) government employees, with their salaries to be determined each fiscal year, and capped in an effort to reduce costs.
Facilities, including hospitals, would receive a budgeted dollar amount each quarter and would be expected to make those funds stretch to cover their patient loads—no matter what that might be. Even hospitals that secure equipment through charitable donations would be running afoul of the law.
And your medications would be decided by the federal government, rather than your doctor. Americans don’t want the numbers-crunchers writing their prescriptions.
Even before the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, our nation’s health care system was sick. Costs were rising and access was declining. But because the ACA’s prescription was wrong—more layers of bureaucracy, more federal mandates—the patient has only become sicker.
The new Medicare-for-All bill isn’t the answer; it would only make the problem worse. What the patient needs is clear—stronger relationships between doctors and patients (less bureaucracy in between) and the free market principles that have made our other industries so strong.