Health care whoppers
When it comes to health care, Democrats are selling snake oil. Americans are grappling with rising medical costs. But if they fall for the phony solutions the left is offering, they’ll pay with exorbitant taxes and shorter lives.
Whopper 1: Obamacare is affordable. Joe Biden’s running a television ad in Iowa pledging to stand by Obamacare because “every American deserves affordable health care.” Iowans aren’t going to buy that. They’re not hayseeds.
Truth: In Iowa, 90 percent of Obamacare customers who paid their own way in 2014 have dropped their coverage. Obamacare is affordable only if you qualify for a subsidy. Middle-class people who earn too much to get taxpayer-funded help can’t afford to stay enrolled. They “have taken it on the chin,” reports Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation. Why is the number of uninsured in America suddenly rising again? Blame Obamacare for pricing the middle class out of insurance.
Whopper 2: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has a new proposal to bring down prescription drug prices. She’d force drug companies to “negotiate” with Uncle Sam about the price of each medicine.
Truth: Get real, Speaker Pelosi. No one negotiates with the feds. Uncle Sam will dictate the price. Any drug company that refuses will get socked with a draconian penalty equal to 75 percent of the previous year’s sales of that medicine. In short, bankruptcy. Good luck getting the meds you need then.
Pelosi’s proposal also would bring medical innovation to a halt. Who will suffer most? Cancer patients. New cancer drugs are available sooner in the U.S. than in countries with drug price controls, and that has resulted in longer cancer survival rates here, according to Columbia University economist Frank Lichtenberg.
The public is up in arms about drug prices. In reality, these prices aren’t increasing faster than hospital or doctor costs. But seniors especially feel the sticker shock because they pay a separate deductible for medications under Medicare Part D. That deductible should be eliminated. It would save the system money. Medications keep patients out of the hospital and off the operating table. But a separate deductible discourages patients from taking them.
Whopper 3: At every campaign stop, presidential wannabe Elizabeth Warren rails that insurance companies “sucked $23 billion in profits from the system.” As if eliminating those profits would free up money to cover the uninsured. That’s baloney.
Truth: $23 billion is a miniscule 0.65 percent of the $3.5 trillion Americans spend on health care. Zeroing out all insurance company profits wouldn’t make a dent in the nation’s medical costs.
So where will the money come from? Warren backs Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All plan, which Sanders estimates will cost $3 trillion to $4 trillion a year. To raise that much money, all taxpayers — not just the rich — would have to hand over a gut-wrenching share of their income to Uncle Sam. A married couple earning $165,000 a year and currently paying a 24 percent marginal rate would be hit with a 60 percent marginal rate, according to Congressional Budget Office revenue tables. Goodbye to your standard of living.
Whopper 4: Politicians are here to help. On Friday, Sanders was approached by a Navy vet with crippling Huntington’s disease and a wad of hospital bills. The vet said Tricare — a government-run program — had canceled his coverage. Sanders seized the moment, later bragging that he’d called a Nevada senator and members of Congress to get the vet help.
Truth: If you think getting through to an insurance company when you need help is hard, imagine having to call a member of Congress under government-run health care.
Pols are scapegoating drug companies and insurance companies. Here’s what they’re not telling you: Medical costs in the United States are rising just as fast in other developed countries. Major culprits are the obesity epidemic and inactive lifestyles, not America’s capitalist health system.
Health costs are a top issue in the 2020 election, and every candidate has a “plan.” These plans are mere shell games, shifting the costs from one group of people to another. No one wins but the pols.
Betsy McCaughey is a Creators Syndicate columnist.