by Carrie Sheffield
PolitiFact’s 2013 “Lie of the Year” came from former President Barack Obama selling ObamaCare, his massive government takeover of healthcare. “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it,” Obama said. That was a lie. Now President Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) want to expand that lie through their $3.5 trillion federal spending blowout pending in Congress.
Obama also said we could keep our doctors under ObamaCare. Obama lied to me and millions of other people. When I left a full-time job in 2013 for contract work, I switched to an ObamaCare exchange plan. And no, I didn’t get to keep my doctor on that new plan. I also saw the cost of my ObamaCare plan increase by double digit rates for 2014.
Despite Democrats’ claim that ObamaCare would save money, since the law was passed in 2010,prices for medical care and hospital services have skyrocketed, well above inflation and above workers’ wage growth.
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expect a different result. But Americans are smarter than that, so policymakers are trying to hide how they are doubling down on this failed approach. Biden, Sanders and their allies are using the fig leaf of infrastructure to enact the largest expansion of government-run health care since the Affordable Care Act. Their eventual goal is a complete government takeover of all healthcare –aka the creation of a single payer health care system.
Their tactic: swell government health care spending over the coming decade, while vastly expanding the government’s power to get between American patients and the medical professionals we trust.
The $3.5 trillion Biden-Sanders spending spree includes at least $1.1 trillion in new health care spending, including $200 billion to lower the Medicare eligibility age to 60, $300 billion to add new dental, vision, and hearing benefits to Medicare, $163 billion to expand the Affordable Care Act, a $400 billion giveaway to home healthcare unions.
This will supposedly be “paid for” with $492 billion from Medicare prescription drug price controls, a recipe to destroy innovation and reduce the supply of life-saving medicines (and we know price controls don’t work from Richard Nixon’s failed experiment), $186 billion in wasteful Washington budget gimmicks (things like using fake expiration dates to hide long-term cost) and half a trillion in deficits.
We don’t have a full price tag yet from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, but CBO already says the $1.2 billion “infrastructure” package separate from this $3.5 trillion bonanza would add $256 billion to the federal deficit over the next decade. Undoubtedly that’s a huge understatement.
We will be paying this deficit off for generations, shackling our kids and grandkids with more debt. As a member of the millennial generation, I’m part of the crowd that is skeptical about the American government’s ability to manage these deficits, along with growing interest payments on the debt and Social Security costs as Baby Boomers retire. We should also be skeptical of the wisdom of expanding already strained entitlement programs that we already can’t afford.
Expanding Medicare to those under age 60 (even though, thankfully, Americans’ lifespans are much longer in 2021 than in 1965 when Medicare was created) would mean that there are less resources for the truly elderly and for vulnerable seniors, creating the possibility of dangerous, bureaucratic rationing.
Expanding government control of U.S. prescription drugs would lead to pharmaceutical shortages and fewer new breakthrough therapies. University of Chicago economists Casey B. Mulligan and Tomas J. Philipson, who at different times helmed the Trump administration’s Council of Economic Advisers, wrote in The Wall Street Journal that “American capitalism supported decades of innovation that created conditions conducive to the rapid development of the Covid vaccines. About 70% of the returns to medical research and development across the world come from the U.S., where price controls are less prevalent than elsewhere and companies compete to bring new treatments and cures to market.”
Under BidenCare, pharmaceutical innovation would grind to a halt under bureaucratic red tape. This was the opposite of the Trump administration’s approach. Mulligan and Philipson’s analysis found that President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed accelerating the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines by six months was worth $1.8 trillion to the U.S. economy—and more to the rest of the world.
Expanding the broken Medicaid program would make it even harder for low-income patients to find doctors and hospitals willing to treat them. Expanding the Affordable Care Act would threaten private health insurance plans that hundreds of millions of Americans prefer, because many employers will find it more profitable to stop offering health benefits and instead ask workers to rely on government programs like Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.
Lawmakers: Wake up! This government healthcare would push America one step closer toward a single-payer system, forcing patients to give up the healthcare they like and shackle future generations with trillions in new debt. If Americans knew that this was pending in the so-called infrastructure bills, they would never support them. Don’t let Bernie Sanders and his allies sneak this radical proposal through.
Congress should rise up and reject the Biden-Sanders’s healthcare debacle and instead work to give Americans more private-sector, individualized options that fix what’s broken with healthcare while protecting what’s working for millions of individuals and families.
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Carrie Sheffield is a senior policy analyst at Independent Women’s Forum.