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Michael Swartz / February 23, 2022

‘Healthcare for All’ Shifts to States

So far without success, several states have tried to implement single-payer insurance.

It’s now been almost a dozen years since Democrats passed and Barack Obama signed ObamaCare so we could find out what’s in it. At the time, we were assured by the Left that it would be only a modest step toward the eventual goal of a single-payer healthcare system similar to that found in “civilized” nations like Great Britain and Canada. And even though more radical proposals such as a public option — which, sooner or later, would have eventually wiped out the private insurance system — were taken off the table at that time, there are still many in Congress who pine for the opportunity to grab for a greater hold on our healthcare system, which, despite its flaws, is still the envy of the world.

Fortunately for those of us who prefer freedom, efforts such as “Medicare for All” have so far failed to gain traction. If you need a reminder of why, we have a somewhat similar government-run system to those found in other nations in our Veterans Affairs, and it suffers from many of the same problems that plague the other nationalized healthcare delivery systems, such as long wait times and often substandard care.

Despite those factors, several states seek to inflict a similar statewide single-payer system on their taxpayers. It’s not going well. California’s umpteenth effort at enacting single-payer went down in flames last month when proponents couldn’t convince enough of the Democrats in the Assembly to back the proposal. Out of 56 Democrats in the 80-member Assembly, they couldn’t even get the requisite 41 to pass it.

According to Sally Pipes, the Thomas W. Smith Fellow in Health Care Policy at the Pacific Research Institute: “The tax hikes … envisioned [in the failed bill] amounted to roughly $163 billion in new taxes each year — more than California’s total tax revenue in any year prior to 2020. The total price tag for the bill was estimated as high as $391 billion.”

Across the country in another deep-blue state, Pipes revealed, “In New York, where Democrats control the state assembly and senate, senior leaders have begun negotiations with public-sector unions and other special-interest groups in hopes of winning their support for a statewide single-payer plan.” While Albany Democrats have been mum on the price tag, which Pipes contends would be at least $250 billion, the union support is the key as Big Labor doesn’t want to downgrade benefits.

And on and on it goes. In fact, over the last decade or two, a total of 19 mostly Democrat-run states have proposed some sort of single-payer plan. Coming closest to fruition: Vermont balked at the last minute because of the price tag, and Colorado voters rejected the idea by a nearly 4-to-1 margin in 2016.

Nor is it a new idea. Back in the 1990s, the state of Tennessee adopted TennCare as a supplement to its Medicaid program, but eventually totally restructured the program when its costs spiraled out of control. Way back in 2009, then-Congressional members Marsha Blackburn and Phil Roe explained regarding the Volunteer State’s experiment: “No matter how forthright the Administration’s cost estimates are; no model accounts for the rational decisions that push people to over-utilize the ‘free care’ a public option offers. TennCare’s gold plated coverage included every doctor’s appointment and prescription. As such, patients with a cold opted to charge the state hundreds of dollars for doctor visits and medicine instead of paying $5 out of pocket for over-the-counter cold medicine.”

Now imagine that multiplied by even the half-million citizens of our smallest state, Wyoming — let alone behemoths like California and New York — and you can see why it was an issue that most felt could only be handled at the federal level. But no one talks about the real solution of making healthcare a more personal responsibility with more open pricing and sensible insurance policies that simply cover catastrophic events requiring hospital stays. Those who seek power won’t allow such a discussion because it’s a solution to the problem they can’t control.

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