Bernie Sanders has responded to a study projecting his "Medicare for All" bill (M4A) will cost $32.6 trillion - calling it "grossly misleading" and "biased". In that case, the US would spend about $400 billion more in 2031. Since the federal government takes on almost all health spending under Medicare for All, federal health expenditures will necessarily go up a lot, $32.6 trillion over the ten-year period according to Blahous.
Under Sanders' plan, all U.S. residents would be covered with no copays or deductibles for medical services. "What even this corporate-funded study concedes is that we can actually guarantee health care for everyone in this country, without the devastating, rising costs of premiums, deductibles, and co-pays-at less than we spend as a nation today on health costs".
Josh Miller-Lewis, Sanders's press secretary, said the additional $32 trillion is already being spent by private insurers, and the Medicare-for-All plan would simply move the money to the government. The study - written by Charles Blahous, a former official in President George W. Bush's administration - notes that this price tag would not be covered by doubling what the government now takes in through individual and corporate taxes. That's how much Washington Democrats' single-payer healthcare proposal would cost over 10 years.
"The primary effect here is the expansion of the federal government", Blahous said. National health expenditures refer to all health spending from any source whether made by private employers, state Medicaid programs, or the federal government.
In calculating his cost estimate, Blahous assumed that the new universal system would succeed in "dramatically reducing payments to health providers, in addition to substantially reducing drug prices and administrative costs". "$32.6 trillion dollars", Ryan tweeted after the study came out. The net change across the whole ten-year period is a savings of $2.054 trillion.
Asked about the projected drop in national health spending, Blahous said the rise in government health-care spending was the significant finding of his report, not the change in overall national health spending.
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But the eye-catching cost for the federal government cost only tells part of the story.
"It's a surprisingly positive view of Medicare for All from a very conservative research institute", Larry Levitt, a health-care expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said of the Mercatus report.
His office has not done a cost analysis, a spokesman said. "The striking number people have to grapple with is whether the federal government could take on something of this magnitude".
That's right. A report that was supposed to discredit the single-payer solution found that, even after the benefits of a Medicare for All program are realized-"additional healthcare demand that arises from eliminating copayments, providing additional categories of benefits, and covering the now uninsured"-the potential cost of the plan would still be less than "potential savings associated with cutting provider payments and achieving lower drug costs".
Whether the USA political system could stomach the scale of these changes is another question altogether.
Sanders' plan - if he succeeds in implementing it - will instead "increase the share of that cost paid through taxes, rather than through insurance premiums or out of pocket costs, according to Axios". Single-payer systems in many European countries demonstrate that they can reduce overall national health spending, but that does not mean that a Democratic administration could implement one without incurring an huge political backlash, said Harold Pollack, a health-care expert at the University of Chicago.