Here in Florida and throughout the country, getting access to quality, affordable health care is hard enough as it is. National leaders and policymakers should be doing more to lower prices and expand access to care and coverage by encouraging competition through the free market.
Instead, we have proposal after proposal suggesting we move in the opposite direction: one that would cede control of our health-care system to the U.S. government.
Not only would this approach fail to address the key issues most Americans face when it comes to health care -- high costs and lack of access -- but this kind of top-down, one-size-fits-all approach to health insurance could be a financial disaster, resulting in a $30-trillion-plus price tag over the next 10 years. And who would end up footing the bill? The American taxpayer.
Regardless of what catchy slogan these proposals have -- whether it’s Medicare for all, single payer, or the public option -- the end result will be the same: a system that is set up to favor government-run health insurance plans over private and employer-sponsored ones.
Under any one of these scenarios, private and employer-sponsored insurance plans would struggle to compete as these other systems would have the full financial backing of the federal government -- without any of the costs, overhead, and other factors private insurers have to worry about.
Eventually, insurance options for patients and consumers would continue to dwindle until only the government plan remains. At that point, there is no telling what would be covered or how we could be ensured the same level of competition as we see in the private market today to keep costs from spiraling out of control. There is just too much uncertainty in a government-run health insurance system.
Moreover, Medicare and Medicaid are both at-risk programs. Massively expanding either without first fixing the problems that plague both would not only be unwise, it would be irresponsible.
Furthermore, a Medicare for all system would be a slap in the face to the millions of a seniors who currently rely on Medicare to access the health-care coverage they have paid into over decades of employment. We owe it to America’s seniors to ensure Medicare is working for them before we go trying to foolishly add many millions of new people into a program that is at best on shaky ground.
From a financial perspective, government-run health care insurance systems would also be devastating for rural hospitals. Many sole community providers are struggling just to keep their doors open as it is. Drastically slashing reimbursement rates to Medicare levels would make it nearly impossible for providers to continue offering the same level of care. Many could be forced to lay off staff, ration care or close altogether.
Patients must already contend with a high rate of hospital consolidation and massive doctor shortage. Further undermining the strength and vitality of our venerable health care institutions would only exacerbate these issues, weakening access, limiting options, and threatening affordability for patients. Not only that, but hundreds of thousands of jobs could be at stake if the future of America’s hospitals is thrown into jeopardy.
No matter what you call it, government-controlled health care insurance simply is not worth the risks -- and no one should have to pay more through higher taxes in order to have fewer options, reduced quality of care and longer wait times.
For Florida and America, Medicare for all means comprehensive, affordable health care for none.
Jason Brodeur is president and CEO of the Seminole County Regional Chamber of Commerce. He is a Republican candidate for Florida Senate District 9 in 2020. The opinions in this column are his own.
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