Sanderscare: What is Bernie Thinking?

by David Flemming

Once again, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has decided to beat the drum for single-payer healthcare (Medicare for All!) Will he ever realize he’s beating a dead horse?

Single Payer failed in Vermont, the first state to actively pursue the policy, in 2014 after it became obvious to nearly everyone that any plan to pay for the program was totally unrealistic.

Single Payer failed in Colorado, where citizens rejected it by a 4-to-1 margin.

Single Payer failed in California after the bill was tabled by Democratic leadership because lawmakers in one of the country’s most progressive states couldn’t figure out how to make it work. Scarily, the Assembly Democratic Caucus released a statement: “we have become alarmed and disheartened by bullying tactics, threats of violence, and death threats” they have received since ending the effort.

But Sanders isn’t one to let failure at the state level distract him from making bigger promises – failure at the national level!

He begins his proposal by saying, “other industrialized nations are making the morally principled and financially responsible decision to provide universal health care to all of their people.” Even the New York Times isn’t letting Sanders get away with this one: “A vanishingly small number of countries actually have single-payer systems…In countries like Canada- the system most similar to the one that Mr. Sanders seeks to create – private corporations provide insurance for services that fall outside of government guarantees. And these guaranteed benefits are substantially more limited than those in the Sanders proposal.”

The Fraser Institute, a Canadian think-tank, estimates that 41,838 Canadians sought medical treatment abroad (many of whom chose their nearest neighbor the US) in 2014, a number that increased 25% in 2015 to 52,513. Sanders might have done better than to model his healthcare system off of a country that relies upon its inhabitants leaving their country in order to get better healthcare.

Sanders proposal would force a new 6.2% tax on employers and a 2.2% tax on households. He tries to make the case that families earning less than $28,200 would not be hit by a tax increase, but even poor families would be adversely affected in other ways. Analysis by the left-leaning think tank Urban Institute finds that after employers pay the 6.2% tax “this would ultimately be shifted back onto employees—including low-income employees—in the form of lower wages. Thus, low-income workers, like other workers, would in fact bear some of the costs of financing the plan.”

And, even these massive tax increases would not be enough to pay for Sanderscare. According to the Urban Institute, the whopping $15.3 trillion in new taxes is not even half of the amount needed to finance the plan, $28.9 trillion from 2017 through 2026

So, just to recap, Sanders wants us to emulate a deficient healthcare system using $15 trillion in new taxes to do it, and even that wouldn’t be enough to pay for even half of his scheme. We already know that the concept proved impossibly unpopular in two of the most left leaning states in the union (Vermont and California) and a key swing state (Colorado). Does this strike anyone else as not a good idea on any level?

David Flemming is a policy analyst for the Ethan Allen Institute.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Stanley Wood September 22, 2017 at 10:03 pm

Being a veteran and using the VA healthcare system is a waiting game. The VA only fills 51.4% of their available appointments according to a new report and vets wait for a long time to get an appointment. I made my annual appointment for my knee and had to wait just over 4 months. And that’s for my annual one. Then the special rules like I was told I had to wait till I was 55 to have my hip replacement which was completely destroyed. It was a service connected injury I was just turning 53 then. The doctor told me if I had private insurance I could get it done outside of the VA system quickly. If there is only single payer those rules will be in place countrywide! Saw an article this week where in Britain they are starting to refuse treatment for people with a BMI over 30% and smokers because they don’t have the money to cover everyone and have to start rationing care. Government healthcare has nothing to do with healthcare it’s about control. Remember a month ago one of the European nations said they were eliminating Down’s syndrome babies by testing during pregnancy and aborting them if positive. Once you control healthcare you control the country it’s an old socialist way just ask the Germans it happened there during the 1930’s under socialists, National Socialists run by a guy named Adolph Hitler.


Jim Bulmer September 22, 2017 at 11:41 pm

Just got a thought. How about letting Berne being THE single payer for all?


Jim Bulmer September 23, 2017 at 1:13 pm

Bernie thinking? You give him far too much credit.


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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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