A recent exposé from the New York Times describes at length a truly devastating reality of Medicare For All: big government is going to crush hospitals under its boot.
Under the current proposal, projections show hospitals will lose an astounding $151 billion per year nationally—a nearly 16 percent cut in revenue. The consequences of such a drastic change would reverberate throughout the medical field. These economic pressures will force hospitals to cut an estimated 1.5 million jobs, incur enormous debt, and forego potential facility and technological upgrades.
Medicare For All will lay waste to the entire hospital industry…
In short, Medicare For All will lay waste to the entire hospital industry, harming not only medical professionals but also the patients relying on hospitals for treatment. The sickest and most vulnerable among us will pay the highest price.
Proponents of Medicare For All constantly argue that an expansion of Medicare would save money by lowering total national health care spending. However, that’s like claiming that you can save money on food by letting your children starve.
The single-payer system effectively “starves” the hospital industry of the funds it needs to operate by relying solely on Medicare reimbursement rates, which are substantially lower than those of private insurance. Hospitals are forced to accept the artificially-lowered treatment prices set by Medicare, and without adequate funds, America’s 5,300 hospitals would be forced to ration care. That means that patients will face a world with fewer doctors, longer wait times, and lower quality treatment – all of which limit the options of the sick and needy.
When the government imposes its arbitrary edicts within the medical field, the victims are almost always the patients.
This problem is not exclusive to Medicare For All either. It is emblematic of government intervention throughout the medical industry. When the government imposes its arbitrary edicts within the medical field, the victims are almost always the patients.
Take, for example, a recent decision by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to cover CAR-T, a particular type of cancer treatment. In February, CMS proposed allowing patients access to the widely-successful CAR-T immunotherapy. The proposal is mostly praiseworthy, and the desire to provide people living with cancer with the opportunity for life-saving treatment was undoubtedly the right one. However, along with CMS’s proposal came a harmful government regulation wedged within it: a clause which could limit the availability of CAR-T to hospitals only.
Similar to Medicare For All, the government is limiting CAR-T treatment to hospitals, harming cancer patients by unnecessarily limiting their options. Not all cancer victims visit hospitals to receive treatment, nor should they be forced to. What is more, this policy would unnecessarily over-crowd hospitals, many of which are already well beyond their census capacity. This influx of patients will increase wait times and lower overall quality of care.
The solution to the CAR-T dilemma is simple: unleash market power to allow for innovation and technological advancement by allowing hospitals to compete with other locations offering treatment, like cancer centers.
The private health insurance industry, an important sector of the American economy, would practically dissolve into irrelevance overnight.
If only there were a straightforward way to rectify the Medicare for All proposal, which is stooped in the anti-choice, anti-market waters that haunts this one piece of the CMS proposal.
Unlike the proposal from CMS—which CMS can edit and correct at any time—a Medicare For All system, if passed, would irrevocably damage the entire medical industry. The private health insurance industry, an important sector of the American economy, would practically dissolve into irrelevance overnight. With it, millions of people would lose their jobs, hospitals would lose their sustainability, and patients would lose the quality of care they deserve.
Ultimately, Americans should reject Medicare for All, not just because it costs too much or it gives the government too much power, but because it harms the sick and vulnerable, the very people it purports to help.
Benjamin Alli, M.D., Ph.D., is a Sakellarides Professor of Medicine and Surgery and the Chancellor of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of the United States of America.