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Senator Bernie Sanders tries for another takeover of American health care

Aug 16, 2021 by AFP

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Earlier this summer we detailed how the president’s “infrastructure” plan would hurt your health care.

Events have progressed quickly since then. The Senate recently passed a $1.2 trillion “hard infrastructure” package, and Senator Bernie Sanders is now proposing a $3.5 trillion spending spree that would grant government greater control over our health care system.

In light of these new developments, we’ve updated our previous post to feature the new details about what’s in the president’s plans for home health care workers and Senator Sanders’ health care heist.

Lawmakers’ so-called “infrastructure” proposals have, unfortunately, little to do with building and maintaining our roads and bridges.

  • Between the Senate-passed $1.2 trillion package and Senator Bernie Sanders’ $3.5 trillion proposed spending spree — the true cost of which likely exceeds $5 trillion — precious few taxpayer dollars would be devoted to infrastructure.
  • Hundreds of billions of dollars would be directed toward corporate welfare and other partisan giveaways. Politically connected companies and other interests see a windfall in this deal. The average American should not.

These two proposals would represent one of the largest spending sprees in our history, paid for by one of the largest tax increases.

That would be a disaster for America’s taxpayers and those relying on a strong recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.

But this “infrastructure” proposal has another victim: Your health care.

Americans don’t typically think of government growing its power over medicine when they think of infrastructure, but that’s exactly what Sanders’ plan would do.

Most just want access to quality, affordable care and would like greater control of their health care decisions.

Washington’s “infrastructure” proposal would hurt our health care by:
  • Putting your family’s medical decisions in the hands of the government.
  • Kicking millions of Americans off their insurance plans.
  • Making care less accessible.
  • Warping Medicare and Medicaid for political ends.
  • Giving handouts to union leaders.

Politically connected interests – including insurance companies and unions – would reap the benefits. To protect Americans’ health care, Congress must end Washington waste and reject this proposal.

A massive giveaway to insurance companies and the highest earners on the taxpayer dime

Senator Sanders’ proposal contains a multitude of health care provisions, but they wouldn’t help Americans in need.

The largest beneficiaries of this spending are insurance companies and the highest earners. Taxes on the middle class would ratchet up, and those making $400,000 would qualify for taxpayer-subsidized health care.

Insurance companies are lobbying strongly in favor of this package. Why? The proposal would deliver tens of billions of dollars in additional subsidies to them each year, as part of Affordable Care Act expansion.

We’ve seen the effects of ACA expansion. These benefits are often directed toward the highest earners.

The recent $1.9 trillion COVID-19 “relief” package, for example, made 3.5 million people in the top two income quintiles — 1.1 million of whom had incomes above 600 percent of the federal poverty level, about $77,000 for an individual and $159,000 for families of four — eligible for subsidized insurance.

These expansions, we are told, are meant to help low-income Americans first and foremost. That isn’t the case. People in the top two income quintiles — families of four making around $100,000 — would collect the largest average premium subsidies.

These ACA expansion subsidies are unfair, of course, but they are also destructive.

The insurance tax credit for ACA premiums would be much higher than the credit available for employer-sponsored insurance premiums. In effect, Americans would be penalized for sticking with the insurance they get through their employers and would likely be pushed onto ACA plans.

The result? Millions of employees would lose their employer coverage.

That would endanger the health benefits that millions of Americans have earned through their employers.

The plan would hurt vulnerable Americans by warping Medicare and Medicaid

Lawmakers have big plans for two of our largest entitlement programs, Medicare and Medicaid. Unfortunately, these plans will hurt those programs, leaving vulnerable Americans worse off.

First, Sanders’ proposal would pressure states into ballooning Medicaid, expanding eligibility to over 2.2 million able-bodied adults and spending tens of billions of dollars more. Lawmakers seem to have forgotten that Medicaid was designed to help low-income people and other vulnerable Americans.

Nevertheless, their plans would result in worsening Medicaid coverage and force states to raise taxes or cut other important programs.  

The senator’s proposal would also waste Medicare benefits by spending an additional $370 billion over 10 years to duplicate coverage already offered by Medicare Advantage.

Senator Sanders also wants to spend hundreds of billions more to lower the program’s eligibility age from 65 to 60, which would further strain the program by adding 23 million non-seniors who already have insurance to its rolls.

This is not smart policy. Medicare’s hospital-benefits trust fund is projected to run out as soon as 2026.

How will Washington fund this plan? By taking on more debt — around half a trillion dollars — engaging in “cost-saving” gimmicks, and raising taxes.

The proposal would hurt workers while giving another handout to unions

President Biden’s proposal is similarly wasteful. Take the plan’s $400 billion expense for home-based care, a plan marketed by the White House primarily as a way to benefit unions with collective bargaining mandates and other perks.

This isn’t an investment in people who rely on home-based care, though it is marketed to sound as if it is. Instead, it would line the pockets of union leadership.

Classifying private sector homecare aides as “government employees” would allow union leaders to compel these workers to pay dues, but it wouldn’t do anything to expand job opportunities or access to care.

This is, in short, a ruse — and a handout to politically favored groups at taxpayer expense.

Lawmakers should reject the Senator Sanders’ “infrastructure” proposal. It would spend trillions for politicians’ favorite companies and unions — and it would leave taxpayers holding the bag, especially when it comes to their health care.

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