BY DEANE WALDMAN, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — 01/24/21 02:00 PM EST
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS ARE THEIR OWN AND NOT THE VIEW OF THE HILL
Democrats now control the White House and both Houses of Congress, albeit with very slim majorities.
What will they do with (or to) health care? “Medicare for All” or the House bill — Medicare for All Act of 2019 — is probably a non-starter. Introduced almost two years ago, the act has never been brought to a vote probably because of its price tag of $32.6 trillionto $40 trillion. Worse, the Medicare-for-All bill, H.R. 1384, will reduce access to care.
According to the Biden health plan, a public option is a “public health insurance option like Medicare” and “like Medicare, [it] will negotiate prices with providers” and “negotiate lower prices” for drugs. Such negotiations will be the ultimate power mismatch between the federal government and any single commercial entity. Washington will likely dictate to providers, hospitals and suppliers: take it or leave it.
Biden’s use of like Medicare should raise serious concern in American minds. The hospital portion of Medicare will be insolvent, i.e., will go broke, by 2026. At that time, Medicare will no longer be able to pay for seniors’ hospital care. What will happen to seniors who need in-patient care?
Why should Americans support a plan “like Medicare” that presumably would be just as fiscally unsustainable and medically unavailable?
The public option is a taxpayer-supported, federally administered insurance company. Private insurers, who currently cover 176.7 million Americans, are commercial enterprises. They either take in more revenue than they pay out, or they go out of business. With our tax dollars behind it, the public option cannot run out of money. And, the federal government can print money: insurers cannot read more….
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