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Bernie Sanders Medicare for All plan cost: would actually save money

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bernie sanders
Bernie Sanders
Joe
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  • A new report from the libertarian Mercatus Center drew
    attention as it showed Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All plan
    would cost the federal government an additional $32.6 trillion
    over 10 years.
  • But the Mercatus report also showed that the national
    health expenditure — the total amount spent on healthcare in
    the US by the federal government, states, businesses, and
    individuals — would actually come in below current projections
    under Sanders’ plan.
  • So while the price tag for the federal government would
    increase, the total cost of healthcare would go down while also
    providing healthcare to more than 30 million uninsured
    Americans.

A new report on Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All plan finds an
whopping cost for the federal government. But the price tag may
not be as overall eye-catching as it initially seems.

The
report, from the libertarian Mercatus Center,
showed that
Sanders’ plan to extend Medicare to all Americans would increase
federal healthcare costs
by $32.6 trillion between 2022 and 2032
, if implemented as
written.

Republicans pounced on the number, arguing it showed that such a
plan was not feasible.

$32.6 trillion dollars. That’s how much Washington
Democrats’ single-payer healthcare proposal would cost over 10
years,” House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted.
“Even doubling all federal individual and corporate income taxes
wouldn’t cover this cost. It is just absurd.”

But the eye-catching cost for the federal government cost only
tells part of the story. The government is only one piece of the
health system’s puzzle.

The Department of Health and Human Services also measures the
total amount spent on healthcare in the US — including the amount
paid by states, private citizens, the federal government,
businesses, and more. This all-encompassing number is known
as the national health expenditure, or NHE.

According to the Mercatus model, total health spending would

actually come in approximately $303 billion lower
in 2031
than under current projections, with $7.35 trillion going to
healthcare that year versus the $7.65 trillion currently
expected. Total national health spending would be $2 trillion
lower between 2022 and 2031 under the Medicare for All plan,
according to the report.

While the price tag for the federal government would increase
significantly, decreased spending by other groups would actually
lower the total amount of healthcare spending over the same
10-year period. At the same time, the model also assumes that 30
million more people would get access to healthcare, and many
people would get more robust services.

The savings would come from a variety of places, such as the
government’s ability to leverage its bargaining power into lower
prescription drug costs and mandating that all healthcare
providers take the lower Medicare payment rate. 

The study contains assumptions, and there are numerous political
and practical concerns in shifting the burden of healthcare
payments to the federal government. But based on the Mercatus
model, tens of millions of currently uninsured Americans would
have access to healthcare and the US as a whole would end up
spending less than it is expected to right now.


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