The Corner

Health Care

Single Payer and the Coronavirus, Ctd.

A few weeks ago I wrote a column responding to Senator Bernie Sanders’s argument that the coronavirus pandemic showed the wisdom of his Medicare for All proposal. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a left-wing group, is now trying to shore up that argument. Joshua Cho writes that “it is bizarre to hear [Ponnuru] arguing against Medicare for All because it would not bring as much cost savings as single-payer advocates claim it would, as it would raise ‘demand for medical services by making it free at the point of service.’ Aside from faulty arguments related to ‘cutting doctors’ pay,’ yes, more people seeking testing and treatment for Covid-19 and other ailments is a good thing, and precisely why universal healthcare is necessary to combat a pandemic.”

Cho is missing the point. I didn’t argue that it would be bad to subsidize testing and treatment for coronavirus because it would raise demand for testing and treatment. I argued that you can’t simultaneously a) argue that Medicare for All is good because it would induce more people to use coronavirus-related medical services and b) ignore that increased demand for medical services of all kinds when promising savings that can be used to improve public health. As I pointed out, that’s what Sanders did.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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