Senate, Forget about Rolling Back the Government Takeover of Health Care

The failure of the ‘red wave’ to materialize means that an old-fashioned socialist will have the whip hand over health care for the next two years.

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Elections have consequences. Republicans’ failure to capture the U.S. Senate means that the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions — known as the HELP committee — will be chaired by Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.).

Sanders will replace Patty Murray (D., Wash.), who, by the standards of today’s Democratic Party, is relatively moderate in her views and temperament. “Moderate” is not in Sanders’s lexicon.

Lest we forget, Sanders is the senator who introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2017 that would have created a monopoly government health insurer to set all prices paid to health-care providers. Every American would be forced to participate with mandatory premiums set through tax policy. People who disliked the government’s plan would have no option to buy alternative insurance since the proposal banned private insurance for the comprehensive services covered by the program. Thankfully, that bill went nowhere.

But Sanders remains committed to a government takeover of the U.S. health-care sector that will limit Americans’ health-care choices. In May, he introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2022, which includes the identical prohibitions found in the earlier bill making it unlawful for a private insurer to sell health insurance or for a private employer to offer health insurance to its employees and their dependents.

Medicare for All would not simply expand Medicare. It would be a completely different system that would eliminate the private insurance elements, choice, and competition seen in the current system, even within government health insurance.

Currently, for example, Americans can elect Medicare Advantage, the privately run alternative to traditional, fee-for-service Medicare, that generally provides comprehensive insurance coverage. It has steadily grown in popularity since being introduced in 2007 and now covers nearly half of Medicare beneficiaries. Advantage plans compete against other advantage plans and traditional Medicare, providing enrollees a choice of what benefits and costs best suit their needs.

People who elect to stay in traditional Medicare automatically get Part A, which covers inpatient hospital expenses without paying a premium. They decide whether they want to pay for Part B, which covers physician expenses, and whether they want to purchase a supplemental policy to cover the 20 percent coinsurance for each Part B–covered service.

Medicare beneficiaries also get to decide whether they want prescription-drug coverage. Three quarters of them have chosen to enroll in Part D, a voluntary, outpatient, prescription-drug benefit provided through private plans that contract with the federal government. The average enrollee gets to choose among 23 private, standalone plans if he or she is in traditional Medicare or 31 Medicare Advantage drug plans.

Under Medicare for All, Americans would have no choice but to accept the government insurance or pay out of pocket — an option available only to the wealthiest. And, while health providers would not be government employees, the elimination of private insurance would obligate providers to receive their income and instructions from the federal health-insurance monopoly.

Read the full article at National Review.