'Medicare for all' projected to cost $32.6 trillion

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The study argues that Sanders' plan for universal health care would raise federal government spending by $32.6 trillion between 2022 and 2031, but also noted that overall federal healthcare spending would decline by more than $2 million.

At first glance, it is unusual that the Mercatus Center, which is libertarian in its orientation and heavily funded by the libertarian Koch family, would publish a report this positive about Medicare for All.

Under Sanders' plan, all US residents would have health coverage, with no copays or deductibles, and private insurers would be restricted to a minor role, the Associated Press reported.

Sen. Bernie Sanders' Medicare for all plan would boost government health spending by $32.6 trillion over 10 years, requiring historic tax hikes, says a study released Monday by a university-based libertarian policy center.

These changes would lead the US government to control virtually all health spending in the United States - Sanders' plan would also cover dental care and vision care - in what may be the biggest increase in federal expenditures in history, according to Blahous. The study - written by Charles Blahous, a former official in President George W. Bush's administration - notes that this price tag would not be covered by doubling what the government now takes in through individual and corporate taxes.

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"This grossly misleading and biased report is the Koch brothers" response to the growing support in our country for a "Medicare for All' program", Sanders said in response to the study, which was penned by Charles Blahous, who previously worked as a senior economic adviser to former President George W. Bush.

"At a time when the United States spends far more per capita on health care than any other country on Earth... a Medicare For All health care system would save the average American significant sums of money", he continued.

His office has not done a cost analysis, a spokesman said.

Sanders' staff found an error in an initial version of the Mercatus report, which counted a long-term care program that was in the 2016 proposal but not the current one. Blahous says the report is his own work, not that of the Koch brothers.

"$32.6 trillion dollars. That's how much Washington Democrats' single-payer healthcare proposal would cost over 10 years", House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted. Single-payer systems in many European countries demonstrate that they can reduce overall national health spending, but that does not mean that a Democratic administration could implement one without incurring an enormous political backlash, said Harold Pollack, a health-care expert at the University of Chicago.

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While writing for Business Insider, Bryan also said, "The study contains assumptions, and there are numerous political and practical concerns in shifting the burden of healthcare payments to the federal government".

So while the price tag for the federal government would increase, the total cost of healthcare would go down while also providing healthcare to more than 30 million uninsured Americans. Those studies found increases in federal spending over 10 years that ranged from $24.7 trillion to $34.7 trillion.

Kenneth Thorpe, a health policy professor at Emory University, pointed out that "even though people don't pay premiums, the tax increases are going to be enormous". Savings from streamlined administration would be even greater, almost $1.6 trillion.

The Mercatus study takes issue with a key cost-saving feature of the plan: that hospitals and doctors would accept payment based on lower Medicare rates for all their patients. "Even doubling all federal individual and corporate income taxes wouldn't cover this cost".

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