As the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare withered on the vine, the self-described socialist senator from Vermont rushed to fill the political vacuum. Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All Act of 2017 is a single-payer proposal that shamelessly attempts to harness the popularity of Medicare, the government insurance program for the elderly. But the system Sanders proposes would be more aptly described as Medicaid for all. It more closely resembles the expensive health insurance plan for the poor, which often provides inadequate coverage and pays such low fees to physicians that many refuse to participate.
Government-funded universal health care has long been a goal of the political left. But attempts to enact such entitlements at the state level have showed single-payer’s budget-busting reality. Vermont in 2011 approved a single-payer plan for the state that was supposed to take full effect this year. But legislators never worked out how to pay for it, and after intense efforts to make the program affordable, Governor Peter Shumlin declared it undoable financially and shelved the program. California progressives experienced a similar letdown this year, coming close to legalizing a single-payer plan only to learn that there wasn’t nearly enough gold in the Golden State to pay the tab.
It’s not clear why a national system would fare any better. Sanders, though, remains a true believer, and he is traveling the country exciting followers with a siren song of free universal coverage for everyone. In truth, while Sanders’s plan would probably bankrupt the country, its flaws go far beyond the price tag. Berniecare’s combination of spendthrift utopianism and authoritarian ambition would make us less wealthy, less healthy, and less free.
Read more at the Weekly Standard.