Tag: Medicare for All

Start Paying Attention to Social Security, Whatever Your Age


After the late Sen. Robert Dole (R-KS) passed away earlier this month, I visited YouTube to watch his Senate farewell address. He resigned from the Senate as Majority Leader and as the Senior Senator from Kansas on June 11, 1996. I had a front-row seat for his speech as Secretary of the Senate.

During that speech, Dole considered helping extend the solvency of Social Security, which teetered on the edge of bankruptcy in 1983, as his single most significant legislative achievement, among many. It was a bipartisan agreement that included reforms insisted by Republicans (phasing in the age to receive full retirement benefits, including mine) and tax hikes demanded by Democrats. It was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, flanked by a happy bipartisan delegation from Congress, along with Treasury Secretary Don Regan.

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Medicare for All!  Put the flag behind it!  Sell it like it’s the best thing since flip top cans on beer.  Go Team! Wow, that sounds great, doesn’t it?  And, yeah, I worked my whole life to attain the soon-to-be age of 65 to get Medicare, but the idea of providing “free” healthcare to everyone […]

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Bernie Sanders has a very sneaky campaign tactic going on lately, and so far he seems to be getting away with it.  To see what he is doing you have to compare and connect multiple policies to notice what he has in mind.  He recently acknowledged that the tax increases needed to pay for his “free” […]

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James Madison, founding father and president, once stated in a letter: “With respect to the words “General welfare” I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense, would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character, which there is […]

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Unconstitutional Medicare-for-All


Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Medicare-for-All (MfA) proposal, which calls for $20.5 trillion in new taxes on everyone but the middle class (ahem), has generated fierce political controversy that threatens to upend the Democratic presidential primary. Economic critiques of her MfA program on the left and the right are a dime a dozen. Yet surprisingly, there has been a stunning silence on the possible constitutional challenges that could be raised against the program. But because other variations of the MfA program may yet be introduced, including one by Senator Bernie Sanders, it is better to think through these issues in advance.

In general, there are two kinds of constitutional objections that that can be raised against any federal program—those based on claims that the program violates federalism, and those concerned with the protection of religious and economic liberties. Dealing with these various issues depends critically on one’s basic approach to constitutional interpretation—whether one adopts a New Deal jurisprudence or a classical liberal one. Under the earlier classical liberal view, all government action was viewed with suspicion. The dominant attitude sought to slow down adventurous legislation. Speaking generally, statutes that strengthened common law interest in property and contract were favored.

The New Deal revolution arose because the Supreme Court Justices of the time no longer showed the same respect to common law rights and duties. They invited comprehensive government intervention even into competitive markets for labor, agriculture, telecommunications—and, later on, health care. The progressives thought that private markets in these areas were riddled with market failures, which could be corrected only by expanding federal power and limiting the scope of private rights of property and contract.

The Cost of ‘Medicare for All’ Isn’t Just Taxpayers’ Dollars — It’s Also Jobs and Income


“Medicare for All” plans, such as those proposed by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, qualify as “big structural change,” to use Warren’s phrase. The elimination of private health insurance in favor of “free” government health coverage is certainly change that’s big and structural. Same goes for all the tax increases and the payment of much lower rates to physicians and hospitals.

But those are the known big structural changes, or BSCs — at least the ones mentioned in candidate plans. But what about other BSCs that may be less obvious? Would, say, overriding drug patents affect the type of early-stage development done by biotech firms and funded by venture capital? Undercutting that innovation mechanism would qualify as a BSC.

Or how about this: The Washington Post points out that economists “have projected as many as 2 million jobs could be lost under a Medicare-for-all system that eliminated all private coverage.” That also qualifies as BSC. When a reporter recently asked Warren about the job loss issue, the senator responded, “So I agree. I think this is part of the cost issue and should be part of a cost plan.”



Elizabeth Warren recently rolled out her new “Medicare-for-All” plan with the strong claim that “Health Care Is A Basic Human Right.” She then backed up that claim with a story about how, when she was in middle school, her father had a heart attack and their health care expenditures nearly cost her family its home. From those two observations, she has crafted her massive entitlement system which will, when the dust settles, collapse. It will fail as individuals become unable to receive timely health care, and it will exacerbate the dislocations that plagued the Warren family. Why? Because her two points represent the worst way to think about health care, both on the revenue side and on the expenditure side.

On the first point, the stirring claim that health care is a “right” obscures all references to correlative duties. Under classical legal thought, a right to health care referred to the ability of a person to take his own money and spend it on health care with whatever health care providers that he chose. The correlative duties on the rest of the world were not to fund his care but to stand aside and let those contracts go forward as the parties chose. As in all areas of human endeavors, voluntary transactions normally generate gains for both sides. In health care markets, families and individuals are often unsure what contracts to make or why. But their best cure is to hire agents who can fill their knowledge gap, whether as personal advisors, employers, cooperatives, or religious or social groups.

Warren’s radical approach requires the negation of these traditional rights to acquire health care. Her positive right to health care necessarily imposes on someone else the correlative duty to supply that needed health care. But this broad task then faces two insuperable obstacles. First, on whom does the duty of provision apply? The Warren answer in large measure enables a government coterie to coerce employers, large corporations, and a select group of the ultra-rich to discharge that obligation. Once these payors are identified, the state will then set out the terms of coverage by running a planned economy, deciding what bundle of services will be provided, and through which institutions. Friedrich Hayek’s prescient warning about the abuses of centralized power is recklessly thrown to the wind.

Warren’s Health Plan, SNL, and Partial Equilibrium Reasoning


That Saturday Night Live cold-open about Elizabeth Warren pitching her “Medicare for All” plan to skeptical Iowa voters may seem like an in-kind donation to the Warren campaign. Kate McKinnon’s impression of the Massachusetts senator is both spot-on and compelling.

But there was one way in which the sketch was unfair to Warren. At one point, “Warren” is asked why she claims her plan will cost $20.5 trillion over a decade even though many economists put the cost at 50 percent higher or more. “Warren” then dismisses all these estimates as “pretend,” then adding, “You ready to get red-pilled? Money doesn’t exist!”

But the real Warren has a more thoughtful answer than that. Her plan would supposedly spend far less than commonly assumed through lower administrative costs than private insurance, reimbursing physicians and other non-hospital providers at current Medicare rates, and “reining in out-of-control prescription drug costs” through a variety of government-driven means.

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You can pay for “Medicare for All” by just cost shifting corporations paying for insurance to paying an equivalent amount per employee in tax. I keep seeing opponents pointing out this is a new tax that will be passed on to consumers,  that its a huge number, or that it isn’t enough.  https://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2019/11/01/lol-ben-sasse-has-the-perfect-response-to-elizabeth-warrens-insane-healthcare-plan-n2555726 This is […]

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Good polls, confusing polls and politicizing math are the focus of our martinis on Wednesday.  Jim and Greg are glad to see Republican U.S. Senate challenger John James already in a virtual dead heat with Democratic Sen. Gary Peters in Michigan.  They also shake their heads as a new Kaiser Family Foundation survey shows a majority of Americans support Medicare for All but oppose it by large margins when they actually understand it means the end of private insurance.  And they throw up their hands as school officials in Seattle consider adding an emphasis on ethnic studies into all subjects, including taking time in math class to explain how math is oppressive to people of color and is used to exploit natural resources.

My Medicare For All Question


Having watched the Democratic debates a few weeks ago, there is one thing I cannot understand. There was a lot of talk about Medicare For All, and most of the candidates want some version of this. Although I disagree with people who want MFA, I can understand the motivation for it. A low-income Democrat – or even Republican – might say, “If the plan necessitates an approximate doubling of federal income taxes and I’m currently only paying $2500 a year in said taxes, who cares if those taxes double? I’ll be paying an extra $2500 a year, but saving $5-12K per year by not having to buy health insurance. Yeah, it stinks for the people who are already paying $100K in income tax and will see that double, but that’s not my problem.” If they are a hardcore leftist, they may see that as a feature, not a bug.

I don’t condone this kind of selfishness, but I understand that a lot of people will be motivated by it. Here’s what I don’t understand. Why do politicians like Bernie Sanders and Bill DeBlasio insist that we also outlaw private insurance? What harm would be done to the public if a small percentage of Americans decided that they want to keep and pay for their current health insurance policies? Either way, they’re still paying the taxes for MFA. And if they are using private insurance they’re not costing the government any money at all, like those who are signed up for MFA would be. I should think that such people would be applauded.

The Economic Trap of ‘Medicare For All’


January 19, 2019, San Francisco, CA – Participant in the Women’s March holds “Medicare for all” sign while marching on Market street. (Shutterstock.com)

When an untested program looks too good to be true, it is almost certainly far worse than anyone could imagine. Case in point: the Medicare for All program set out in Senate Bill 1129, introduced this past April by Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) and cosponsored by three fellow presidential candidates, Senators Cory Booker (NJ), Kamala Harris (CA), and Elizabeth Warren (MA). The legislation proposes a government takeover of the nation’s entire health care system—the same government that is notoriously unable to address the endless waste in its very own Veterans Administration health care program. The obvious explanation for the government’s abysmal performance in health care is its lack of ownership stake and the associated lack of accountability for costs and performance. This difficulty is inherent in all government-run enterprises, which explains why the United States Post Office is far less efficient than Federal Express and UPS.

A self-described democratic-socialist like Sanders finds these pesky details of business management and incentives irritating irrelevancies that can eventually be solved by clever government officials. After all, if you don’t believe that markets solve problems, why would you think that the market can untie the nation’s health care gridlock? Warren, who has described herself as “capitalist to my bones,” should know better than to trust the federal government to bring order to the national health care system. But the truth is, she deeply disdains markets. Just consider her outlandish proposal to make corporations stack corporate boards with outside stakeholders ultimately accountable to her.

Medicare for All Would be a Disaster for All


The Democrats running for president are at it again: they are submitting a completely unrealistic proposal for single-payer health insurance and they aren’t sharing the facts. We must get the word out to everyone that we have to stop this proposal that will take us in a catastrophic direction.

The media, of course, will tell everyone that the public loves the idea of single-payer insurance aka, Medicare for All. Although those running for President have several different plans, none of them would be good for this country. But according to one poll, the public supports the idea :

Why “Medicare for All” Isn’t Really Medicare at All


It was only days ago that Democrats were lambasting the Trump administration for its perceived indifference to the plight of 800,000 federal workers temporarily going without pay. Yet there seems to be little concern about the long-term fate of the more than half-million Americans who work in the health insurance industry from Democrats who support “Medicare for All.”

During a CNN interview Monday, anchor Jake Tapper asked presidential candidate Kamala Harris whether people would be able to keep their private insurance, if they preferred, under her MfA plan. Harris breezily responded “Let’s eliminate all of that. Let’s move on.” Now maybe some of these folks would end up working for the government helping to administer the expanded Medicare program. Others, seeing the writing on the wall, might start transitioning to other work before such a plan was ever implemented. The rest? Well, that’s the way the labor market churns, I guess. Millions of American gain and lose jobs every month, as it should be in a dynamic economy.

But it’s certainly worth noting the trade-off and acknowledging that there would be costs as well as benefits. Granted, consideration about employment disruption in the health insurance sector probably wouldn’t change public opinion about MfA. That, even though healthcare jobs overall have been a massive driver in the recovery of the US labor market since the Great Recession.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Rich McFadden of Radio America break down Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s request that red-state Democrats remain neutral on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. They also cannot believe that some Democrats are seriously considering the idea of almost doubling the federal budget to pay for Sen. Bernie Sander’s Medicare-for-all program. And they cannot find any examples of malfeasance in the Boston Globe story about the TSA’s passenger-monitoring program that tracks people who sweat too much and urinate too often.

The Fatal Allure of Single Payer


This past week, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont proclaimed in a New York Times op-ed that the time has come to create a program of “Medicare for all,” a government-run single-payer healthcare system that would over a four-year period displace all existing private healthcare plans. His new program, rightly denounced as delusional, purports to provide to over 325 million Americans coverage that would be more extensive and costly than the rich benefits supplied to the 55 million Americans on Medicare—which itself teeters on the edge of insolvency. Sanders proposes to fund his new plan with a variety of heavy taxes on productive labor and capital, without noting that his program will cut into the very tax revenues needed to support such a system. Incentives matter, even in la-la land.

None of this matters to Sanders, for whom noble aspirations cure all technical defects. He believes that the United States, like all other modern states, should “guarantee comprehensive healthcare to every person as a human right.” In his view, the simplification of administrative costs should remove frustration from a beleaguered citizenry constantly at war with its insurance carriers, while simultaneously slashing the expense of running a healthcare system. It is fortunate that the odds of getting this plan enacted soon are low, notwithstanding that his position is swiftly becoming mainstream in the Democratic Party. Of greater import is the catastrophic consequences that would follow its enactment.

Most fundamentally, Sanders and his many acolytes never ask hard questions about what the term “comprehensive” means. Many public healthcare plans, like that of Great Britain, wrestle with this challenge, knowing that aggregate demand for expensive medical services explodes whenever these are offered for free. The extra services demanded cannot be supplied from existing personnel and facilities, so finding additional resources is expensive, given the inevitable diseconomies of scale. It is only possible to survive the onslaught by defining protected benefits relatively narrowly.