Democrat Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) spend a great deal of time and effort championing “Medicare for All.” According to some estimates, Sanders’ plan would cost $32.6 trillion over ten years. Last week, Warren finally released her plan with a whopping $52 trillion estimated price tag.
Consider that the United States has a $22 trillion debt without a massive government-run overhaul of healthcare.
Democrats like Sanders and Warren are trying to make their case for Medicare for All at the national level — healthcare seems to be the name of the game for Dems in 2020. However, several Democrat states have already tried to pass universal health care.
The consensus from these efforts is that the price tag was simply unaffordable.
Vermont’s Attempt at Universal Healthcare
In Sanders’ home state of Vermont, one of the wealthiest and most liberal states in the country, legislators heavily backed a universal healthcare plan. The legislature passed the bill and Governor Peter Shumlin (D-VT) signed Green Mountain Care into law in 2011.
Democrats passed the bill without knowing what it was going to cost or how they were going to pay for the major overhaul in a state where the system was not broken. At the time of Green Mountain Care going into law, Vermont was the second-lowest uninsured state in the nation at 3.7 percent. The national average was 8.8 percent.
Then the bill came due.
To pay the invoice, the state would have to double its budget somehow.
The only way to pay for the bill was to significantly increase taxes. Governor Shumlin determined that the law was “unwise and untenable” and did away with the plan.
The Case in Colorado
In 2016, voters in Colorado had an opportunity to vote for a universal healthcare plan called Colorado Care. It was overwhelmingly rejected by 79% of voters. Just like in Vermont, a significant raise in taxes was the order of the day.
Under the proposed plan, projected income taxes would have to rise to 14.63%, which was more than triple the state’s flat tax income rate.
California’s Go at Healthcare for All
Finally, in 2017 California decided it was time to implement a universal, single-payer healthcare plan called “Healthy California.” Democrats held supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature while having a Democratic governor. It was considered a formality and foregone conclusion that California would pass universal healthcare.
Healthy California passed in the Senate. However, the House leadership was concerned about the extremely high cost. The state estimated the cost at $400 billion per year while the budget at that time was $201 billion. Lacking the funding mechanisms, the House took no action and the bill failed.
A Tough Pill to Swallow
Consider the available evidence surrounding the failures of healthcare for all bills. Liberal, wealthy states like California and Vermont decided that universal healthcare is unaffordable and Colorado voters rejected the cost by a 4-1 vote. Given these trial runs at the state level, does Medicare for All really look like a viable program at the national level?
Former US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said that the states are “the laboratories of democracy,” which can “try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”
The reality is that Medicare for All sounds good until reality sets in and the costs are more than taxpayers can afford. If these states can’t find a way to pay, then how could our federal government do so in the face of an already exploding national debt?
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