The single-payer health care system advocated by Sen. Bernie Sanders (D., Vt.) under the tagline “Medicare for all” would cost the federal government $32.6 trillion over the next decade, according to study released Monday by George Mason’s Mercatus Center, a libertarian-leaning policy center.
Extending Medicare benefits to the entire population would require a massive tax increase as the government assumes the entirety of the health care costs currently born by individuals, according to the study, which aligned precisely with a similar analysis performed by the Urban Institute.
The single-payer plan would reduce prescription and administration costs by streamlining operations, but those savings would be far outpaced by the cost of covering some 30 million uninsured Americans and eliminating copays and deductibles for all consumers.
In fact, the government could double all corporate and individual income taxes and it would still lack requisite revenue to fund the program, the study found.
“Enacting something like ‘Medicare for all’ would be a transformative change in the size of the federal government,” said Charles Blahous, the study’s author.
Sanders, who has long advocated a universal health care system wherein consumers pay no deductibles or copays, impugned the study’s credibility, citing the funding the Mercatus Center receives from the Koch Brothers.
“If every major country on earth can guarantee health care to all, and achieve better health outcomes, while spending substantially less per capita than we do, it is absurd for anyone to suggest that the United States cannot do the same,” Sanders said in a statement. “This grossly misleading and biased report is the Koch brothers response to the growing support in our country for a ‘Medicare for all’ program.”
Though Sanders office has not performed a cost analysts on the plan he has championed, they discovered an error in the initial Mercatus Center analysis which, after it was corrected, shaved $3 trillion off of the ten year cost estimate.
The self-described Democratic socialist has been joined in recent years by a growing number of rank-and-file Democrats in advocating for single payer healthcare. The idea has also taken hold as something a litmus test for Democratic 2020 presidential hopefuls such as Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California.