Sen. Bernie Sanders and his progressive pals may be pushing a "Medicare-For-All" bill as the only solution to the Affordable Care Act's abysmal effect on the health care system, but back in 1987, the Vermont Senator was a lot more honest about what his universal health care plan would cost Americans: a lot.
Bernie and several colleagues ( Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris) say they're totally on board wtih the "single payer" plan, which would shift payment for all healthcare services to the Federal government, eliminating private health insurance plans, and dumping all Americans onto public health care coverage, while, Sanders says, greatly expanding coverage to include not just medical care, but vision and dental as well.
But it's not clear who will pay for the "free" healthcare Bernie promises. The bill leaves that as an asterisk; they say they'll list that in a separate bill, but the scheme will most certainly include a massive payroll tax hike, an additional 4% personal income tax on all Americans, and at least an 8% tax hike on businesses (even the small ones).
The plan would most certainly mire the country in financial ruin (worse than usual, anyway) — something present-day Bernie may be loathe to admit, but 1987 Bernie is happy to.
Just watch him give this interview on publicly funded healthcare back when he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont.
Let's hear that once again, this time with feeling.
“One of the points that we understand and I think was reinforced when we went to Canada,” Sanders told Dr. Miltion Terris, “Number one, you want to guarantee that all people have access to healthcare as you do in Canada.”
"I think what we understand is that unless we change the funding system and the control mechanism in this country to do that,” he said. “For example, if we expanded Medicaid [to] everybody. Give everybody a Medicaid card – we would be spending such an astronomical sum of money that, you know, we would bankrupt the nation.”
What does he think will happen...now? That in the last thirty years, we've magically developed a way to pay for the program out of thin air? That unicorn is probably only visible to Bernie Sanders.
At conservative estimates, the plan will cost an incredible $16 trillion to sustain, just for the next decade. And that's only the minimum.
Of course, Bernie's Medicare-for-All package is unlikely to get much further than a Senate conference committee. The bill, while perhaps workable in his mind, is little more than a convenient opportunity for certain potential 2020 Presidential contenders to prove their progressive bona fides without making any sort of long term commitment to a real change in health care.