A Requiem for Medicare for All – But Beware the Ghost of Public Option Present

Yesterday, Bernie Sanders announced the end of his 2020 presidential run. In celebration of the event, let’s appreciate the America we know and love by imagining what it would have looked like if Bernie Sanders had been president.

In a world where Bernie Sanders is president, Medicare-for-All and all its market-distorting price control schemes would be put in place, right on track to destroying America’s pipeline of innovative medications that seniors and the most vulnerable of patients rely on. The country that once produced two-thirds of all new pharmaceuticals introduced worldwide and had 75 percent of global medical venture capital investment would turn into a country in which innovation would be shipped to China due to a lack of incentive, funds and resources. Mortality rates would increase, and we wouldn’t have the capabilities to stop it.

Despite Sanders’s consistent assertions that Americans would be financially better off under his plan, three-quarters of Americans would be worse off under the government-run universal health care system. In fact, all workers would pay a 21.2 percent payroll tax on top of the taxes they already pay in order to fund the massive cost of Sanders’s system.

The estimated $32 trillion cost of Medicare-for-All would also lead to immediate funding cuts of about 40 percent to hospitals and 30 percent to doctors treating patients under private insurance. And Americans taxpayers would be crushed by huge tax increases. During an earlier debate, Sanders admitted he would have to raise taxes on the middle class to pay for these overarching policies. At a time when the coronavirus pandemic has brought our economy to a halt and we face the possibility of a serious recession, no taxpayers – let alone the middle class – can stomach even a modest tax increase. Yet existing taxes could be doubled and still fail to pay for Medicare for All.

Just as in other countries with government-run healthcare systems, America would face severe medical professional shortages. This would then lead to wait times for an inpatient hospital bed creeping up to over 16 hours. And the wait for treatment would be even worse – with 15 percent of patients waiting for over 18 weeks and cancer patients waiting two months.

Thank you, voters, for sparing our nation from the catastrophe of what Medicare for All would have been. Patients, doctors, scientists and taxpayers can sleep soundly knowing that they have dodged a potential President that would have instituted a devastating socialized health care system. But the fight isn’t over. As Joe Biden is the likely Democratic nominee, price controls and a public option is still a very real possibility. As seen in Colorado, a public option is just as coercive as Medicare for All. The bill would force hospitals and insurers to participate and accept government-imposed prices under the penalty of punitive fines.

If voters let their guard down for one minute, a universal health care system can still become a reality.