U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the Democrats’ plan for a government takeover of health care that would result in tax hikes for middle-income Americans, long wait times and lower quality of care, government involvement in health care decisions, and the elimination of private health insurance.
Thune’s full remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, shortly before Easter, the junior senator from Vermont introduced a new version of his so-called Medicare for All plan.
“Given the staggering price tag of his previous plan, it was reasonable to wonder if he’d think about producing something at least a bit more modest and achievable.
“So what is the new plan like?
“Is it any more realistic?
“Did he figure out a way to actually pay for a government takeover of health care?
“In fact, the new plan is even worse.
“It’s more unrealistic.
“And even more likely to result in massive tax hikes on middle-class Americans.
“Mr. President, an analysis of a previous version of the Vermont senator’s Medicare for All plan found that it would cost $32 trillion over 10 years.
“To put that number in perspective, that’s more money than the federal government has spent in the last eight years combined … on everything.
“Defense, law enforcement, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, the environment, agriculture, foreign affairs … everything.
“Here’s what the Washington Post had to say back in 2017 about the price tag for government-run health care.
“‘But the government’s price tag would be astonishing. When Sen. Bernie Sanders proposed a ‘Medicare for all’ health plan in his presidential campaign, the nonpartisan Urban Institute figured that it would raise government spending by $32 trillion over 10 years, requiring a tax increase so huge that even the democratic socialist Mr. Sanders did not propose anything close to it.’
“Fast forward to today, Mr. President:
“Once again the senator from Vermont has proposed a government-run health plan without even coming close to presenting a way to pay for it.
“The only difference this time is that the price tag is likely to be even higher … much higher.
“Because the senator from Vermont’s new plan also includes coverage for long-term care, a notoriously expensive part of the health care system.
“Democrats’ last attempt to have the government run a long-term care program fell apart before it was even implemented because the program was not financially viable.
“Mr. President, $32 trillion was a staggering enough figure.
“And now we’re talking about the federal government spending even more.
“Where do Democrats think we’re going to find the money?
“The list of proposed tax hikes the senator from Vermont released wouldn’t come close to covering the estimated costs of his original plan, much less the cost of his new, expanded Medicare fantasy.
“And this is not a plan that can be paid for using Democrats’ favorite solution of taxing the rich.
“If Medicare for All ever became law, it would be paid for on the backs of middle-class families.
“Mr. President, it’s impossible to have a discussion of Medicare for All – or maybe we should call it Medicare for None, given the fact that it would end Medicare as we know it – without focusing on the insane price tag.
“But that’s not the only unrealistic aspect of this bill.
“The senator from Vermont is proposing to implement his plan in four years.
“Mr. President, the Obama administration had three and a half years to implement the Obamacare exchanges – which were intended to cover a tiny fraction of the number of people who would be covered under Medicare for All.
“As I’m sure most Americans remember, the government couldn’t put together a working website in that time period.
“The idea that the government could successfully transition more than 180 million Americans into government-run health care in the space of four years is ludicrous.
“Not to mention what that health care would be like when Americans made it into the system.
“As a recent Vox article pointed out, the senator from Vermont is proposing extremely generous benefits – benefits substantially more generous than those offered by other countries with government-run health care.
“But again, he has no viable way of paying for them.
“So the likelihood that Americans would actually see all of those benefits is slim.
“When the government reaches a point where it can’t pay for all the benefits it’s promised, it has basically two options.
“It can raise taxes even further – and that would undoubtedly happen.
“But the government would also inevitably have to turn to the other option: the kind of control over care we’ve seen in other countries with socialized medicine.
“Americans would also undoubtedly soon find themselves facing that other hallmark of socialized medicine: long wait times for care.
“Mr. President, the leader recently said on the floor that Republicans stand for “preserving what works and fixing what doesn’t.”
“That’s exactly it.
“Republicans know that our health care system is not perfect, and we are committed to finding solutions to make health care more affordable.
“But we don’t think tearing down our entire system is the answer.
“We can address the health care challenges we face without ripping away Americans’ health insurance and forcing them into a government-run, one-size-fits-all plan – and then raising their taxes to pay for it.
“We can make health care more affordable without destroying Medicare as we know it.
“Mr. President, Democrats’ socialist health care fantasy sounds nice in theory, but the reality would be anything but:
“Huge new tax hikes for the middle class.
“Long wait times and lower quality of care.
“Government involvement in your health care decisions.
“And no choice at all when it comes to your insurance.
“Let’s hope the Democrat Party halts its mad rush to the extreme left before Americans are forced to live under the ugly reality of socialized medicine.”