Are the Democratic Healthcare Proposals Viable Options?

     With nearly 30 million Americans still without Healthcare, it is one of the most pressing topics in Washington as the 2020 election approaches.  While President Trump plans to delay any action on replacing Obamacare until after the election, Democrats have come up with several proposals to deal with the issue.
     Probably the most well-known plan is Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) Medicare For All.  It is the most sweeping and the most costly with estimates around $32 trillion.  It would end private insurance and replace it with a single-payer system much like Medicare with comprehensive coverage for all Americans. The huge bill could be paid, according to Sanders, by using money currently spent on federal health programs and by raising taxes on the wealthy or taxing employees and employers.  It would also have no cost-sharing, i.e., premiums, deductibles, co-insurance.
     Medicare for America is sponsored by Democratic Representatives Rosa DeLaur (D-Conn.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.)  This plan offers Americans universal coverage but gives them the option of keeping their employer-sponsored plans. Premiums and deductibles would be based on income.  The projected cost of this proposal (although there are no estimates at this time) could be paid by eliminating the tax cuts Congress passed in 2017, raising taxes on the wealthy, and increasing the Medicare payroll tax along with contributions from State governments.
     The Medicare-X Choice Act is sponsored by Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.). This plan leaves the current system in place with a Medicare-administered public option for individuals and small businesses (similar to Obamacare).  It would offer tax credits for those with lower incomes to purchase Medicare-X plans.
     The Medicare at 50 Act is sponsored by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Representative Brian Higgins (D-NY). This bill lowers the age to buy Medicare from 65 to 50. Obamacare subsidies could be used to purchase plans.
     “Our legislation will give millions of older Americans another choice for more affordable, quality health insurance coverage,” cosponsor Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) said in a press release. “For people between the ages of 50 and 64, this is a high quality option that can help reduce health care costs and increase competition in the marketplace.”
     One has to ask how realistic these proposals are when the federal trust that funds Medicare is projected to run out in 2026 in the latest forecast of the program’s financial stability.

     “At a time when some are calling for a complete government takeover of the American health-care system, the Medicare trustees have delivered a dose of reality,” Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a statement after the report was released.

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