Single-payer health care has been championed by progressives as a path to universal coverage and decried by conservatives as a government takeover. Two new studies could give ammunition to both sides.
A report released Wednesday by RAND Corp. shows that New York state could implement a single-payer health plan giving all 19.8 million residents coverage while lowering overall health care spending. Most workers would see their costs decline and wages rise, and employment would increase, too. But the proposal, called the New York Health Act, would require hundreds of billions of dollars in new taxes, a burden falling mainly on the wealthy.
The findings echoed a study of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’s national single-payer plan published earlier this week by the Mercatus Center, a libertarian think tank at George Mason University.
Climbing health care costs are squeezing Americans’ budgets, helping turn health care into a top issue for the 2018 elections, according to polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Americans are increasingly receptive to the idea of an even bigger government role in helping all people get coverage, separate Kaiser polling shows.
Nationally, proposals to provide coverage for all — going far beyond 2010’s Affordable Care Act — are gaining traction on the left.
In the House, Democrats launched a caucus called Medicare for All in July, and a bill to expand the government health program for seniors to everyone has more than 120 co-sponsors. In the Senate, 16 Democrats have signed on to a Medicare-expansion bill from Sanders, including many politicians seen as potential contenders for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination.