The Trouble With BernieCare
Last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced a bill that would end health care as we know it, and Americans should thank him for letting us see where the Democrats want to take the country. Its central premise appears to be that Washington bureaucrats know better than patients and doctors.
But as if taking health care choices from patients isn’t bad enough, this bill also hurts seniors, eliminates private health insurance for nearly 180 million Americans, wipes out Medicare Advantage for over 22 million, and harms our economy for generations to come. It doesn’t stop there: For good measure, the bill removes critical support for children and service members’ families while providing free care to illegal immigrants.
According to estimates from nonpartisan experts, BernieCare could cost taxpayers more than $32 trillion over the next 10 years. Sanders decided a health care bill is a good place to direct our taxpayer dollars toward illegal immigrants rather than put America First. BernieCare allows the government to define who counts as a resident of the United States and makes all residents eligible for “free” health care. It’s always good to see wealthy foreigners from socialist health systems like Mick Jagger come to the U.S. to pay for the best care in the world, but the senator from Vermont wants to give it away to any foreigner for free, courtesy of American taxpayers.
Lest anyone think that there would be no room for private insurance in Sanders’ new system, he has clarified that wealthy people would be able to pay for hair transplants and nose jobs. And to keep the pesky citizenry from complaining about essential treatments that could save their lives or the lives of their loved ones, his plan would ban all advertising for health care products and services. You see, if the government can keep Americans totally ignorant of what’s out there, then it’s easier for them to tell us we are out of options and make us suffer in silence.
To be fair, Sanders did identify a few areas for cost savings in his bill. In what appears to be an effort to make sure military families do not receive the special support they deserve, he proposes to abolish Tricare. The military is not the only group targeted by this plan. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) would also be eliminated under Sander’s vision. And of course, seniors would lose their specialized support as everyone else floods into Medicare and claims scarce resources.
Sanders’ legislation allows for the secretary of Health and Human Services to consult a broad array of institutions when deciding how to implement his Utopian vision of health care. Organized labor, Indian tribes, various medical associations, and unspecified “business groups” make the cut, as do other federal agencies. Noticeably absent are Jewish and Catholic hospitals, which play a critical role in American health care delivery. BernieCare may not have room for religious providers in its America.
The Trump administration agrees that there are real problems in U.S. health care, but the solutions do not include fewer choices and more power handed to bureaucrats to make health care decisions for American patients. Medical care has gotten too expensive, but we should be working together to get costs down—not using health care costs as a backdoor to reshape the economy of this great country. We should build on what works and fix what’s broken. That is why President Trump is working to protect people with pre-existing conditions, end surprise medical bills, increase the transparency of medical costs, lower drug prices, expand access to affordable coverage options, increase patient choice, stop the spread of HIV, end the opioid epidemic, transform kidney care, and accelerate therapies for pediatric cancer.
As I’ve said in the past, if Bernie Sanders or his colleagues want to get serious about addressing any of these issues, they should know that the White House doors will always be open. Let’s work together to confront the problems of health care affordability and access — and do it together, in a bipartisan fashion.