To the Editor:
Democrats voting in the mid-term election ranked health care as their highest priority. Progressive candidates calling for Medicare for all or universal health care cannot tell you how they would pay for a single-payer system where the government runs the health care industry.
Most candidates I interviewed during the election cycle who favored single-payer said they would “tax the wealthy” or the savings in administrative costs under the present system would pay for it.
A libertarian policy center projected that covering everyone under Medicare would cost $32.6 trillion over ten years. How much is a trillion dollars?
A stack of $100 bills would be 631 miles – that’s right, miles- high to reach $1 trillion! The U.S. Treasury is expected to take in $3.4 trillion in the current fiscal year. So it would require the total yearly revenue of the government just to pay for Medicare for all and nothing would be left to pay for Social Security and other mandated entitlements.
You could seize the fortunes of Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, George Soros, Mark Zuckerberg, the Koch brothers and Oprah and still not pay for one year of Medicare for all. So forget about taxing the rich to pay for it.
A government run single-payer health system would mean the end of thousands of jobs in the insurance industry. Is that what we want? And that industry would be replaced with a gigantic new government bureaucracy. If you think that would be a more efficient system pass the pipe, I want some of what you are smoking.
I believe the economic law of supply and demand has not been repealed. Simply put, if demand for a good or service increases and its supply does not rise and if the price is held constant or declines, the result is a shortage of that good or service. In other words, health care would have to be rationed in a government-run system.
We were told the Affordable Care Act passed in the first year of the Obama administration would reduce a family’s health insurance cost by $2,500 a year and let us keep our plan and doctor. Instead we hear constant complaints about the increasing cost of health insurance and doctors –particularly family practitioners - are leaving the profession in droves.
Why don’t we just admit that the health care including pharmaceutical companies is a growth industry? We have an aging population and astounding advances in medical procedures, devices and medications to combat diseases that used to be fatal. The jobs in the industry are highly technical and mostly well paid.
Why aren’t we as concerned about how much is spent on smart phones, cars that have become rolling wifi hotspots, 4K giant screen TVs and devices that listen to every conversation in our houses?
Richard J. August
The writer is a host and co-producer of the public access TV program State of the State. He interviewed many candidates for office in the most recent election cycle.