Health Care

Bernie’s Bad Health-Care Plan

Sen. Bernie Sanders at a news conference introducing the “Medicare for All Act of 2019,” April 10, 2019. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

Government programs often become more expensive over time. Medicare for All is growing without even having gotten into law. The version of the plan Senator Bernie Sanders (Socialist, Vt.) has just introduced will now cover long-term care, which had been omitted from previous bills.

But the expense of the bill — which would necessitate large increases in debt, in middle-class taxation, or in both — is hardly the only objection to it. Scores of millions of people with private health-insurance plans, the vast majority of whom are satisfied by them, would be forced to participate in a government plan instead. Roughly another 20 million on Medicare Advantage, again mostly satisfied customers, would find their plans terminated, too, for being too market-like for socialist tastes. At the same time, the plan would impose unprecedented and draconian reductions in pay for medical providers, which is bound to have a negative effect on the supply of care.

Naturally, the legislation also takes care to socialize the cost of abortion-on-demand and to trample on medical providers who harbor conscientious objections to it.

For decades, a lazy talking point on the left has held that other countries, with socialized medical systems that achieve better health outcomes at lower costs than ours, point the way forward for us. The apparent difference in health outcomes usually turns out to reflect differences in lifestyle and measurement. And no country, as Brian Riedl of the Manhattan Institute has pointed out, has socialized a medical sector as large as ours and then forced it to downsize. Sanders is proposing an expensive, dangerous experiment that has never been tried and, if Americans are lucky, never will be.

The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

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