Perspective | Health care is not free

Eliminating private plans would cut options, overcrowd facilities

Throughout the recent midterm election campaigns, a recurring refrain was Medicare for All. The promises on Medicare for All are very reminiscent of those put forth to promote the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare.”

Remember the sales pitches for that legislation? “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health-care plan, you can keep your health-care plan,” etc.

Those promises turned out to be false.

So, here we go again. Millions of Americans lost affordable insurance plans that were abolished under the Affordable Care Act. This time, Americans must be more careful what they wish for.

There are several variations of Medicare for All, but at least one prominent version makes all private plans that would compete with Medicare illegal. Economic consultant Stephen Moore, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, points out that Title VIII, Section 801 of the Medicare for All Act of 2017 introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) “specifies that no employer benefit plan may provide benefits that duplicate payment for any items or service for which payment may be made under Medicare.” In other words, employers are prohibited from covering their workers, retirees and their families. As a result, nearly half of Americans could lose their health care under this proposal.

National syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin shares her experience with the “Obamacare” system: She, her husband and two children lost “not one, not two, not three but four private individual market health plans killed directly by Obamacare.”

To see what happens with a federal single-payer health plan, look no further than the Veterans Health Administration, where our veterans die waiting in lines for care or even to see a doctor. Whatever path our country takes regarding health care, Americans must never sign on to a plan that abolishes employer-provided coverage, union plans and plans people buy for themselves. The Sanders plan mandates all those provisions.

In his 96-page epistle, Sec. 107, Sanders calls for banning all private insurance four years after the program begins. This section also calls for terminating Medicare and other government health programs.

Betsy McCaughey, former lieutenant governor of New York and now a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, has analyzed Sanders’ legislative proposal page by page. She reports that Sec. 106 and Sec. 611 provide for enrolling everyone, including those living in the country illegally.

Medicare would no longer be a program for seniors; everyone would be in the same Medicare for All programs. Hospitals would receive rates 40 percent less than private insurance, hospitals would have to crowd more beds into rooms and corridors, and patients would have longer wait times for visits and procedures. Meanwhile, demands for care would increase because it’s “free.”

McCaughey likens it to the British National Health Service, “only in Britain the public is allowed to buy private coverage.”

There would be no more union plans. No more employer-provided plans. No more individual private-market plans.

For the federal government to take complete control of such a large piece of the American economy does not bode well for the survival of the American concept of liberty and free choice. Hopefully, the public has learned a lesson about intense sales pitches from Washington and being misled. We need to hold accountable the elected people who should be reading what is in the legislative proposals – not their staff, but the legislators themselves.

As citizens, we should not forget being misled about health care in the past and must insist that officials show us exactly what is stated in the legislation.

Government officials are supposed to serve the people – the people are not supposed to be servants to those in government. And be careful what you wish for: health care is not free.

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