Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) did not vote for the ‘Medicare for All' proposal crafted by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.). Rather, he believes individuals should be able to have the choice into which system they want to buy in.
Murphy, who supports a Medicare buy-in system instead, spoke at an event hosted by the Washington Post on Wednesday and explained why he believes this would work better than Medicare for all.
"What I'm suggesting here is that everybody should have the chance to buy in to Medicare, which is the most popular insurance product in the country," Murphy said. "Sen. Sanders has a different idea. He says that over time we should outlaw private insurance and require that people take up Medicare."
"I understand the argument that we might in the end be better off if everybody was on one system of payment but why not let people make the choice themselves, why not let the market determine whether folks want to be on private insurance or whether they want to be on public insurance?" Murphy asked. "I kind of think that if Medicare prices out where I think it will be over time, people will make that choice. They will choose to be on Medicare benefit. But politically it's a lot easier if you let people make that choice rather than forcing that choice upon them."
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R., La.), who introduced an Obamacare replacement plan known as Graham-Cassidy, also spoke at the event and warned against the Sen. Sanders proposal.
"Medicare for all will be Medicare for none, and if you're on Medicare now and this plan is put into place, a system which is scheduled to go bankrupt in 17 years will go bankrupt in something like 10," Cassidy said. "The only people that will initially opt for Medicare will be those who are older and sicker. So you're going to do what is happening with the exchanges. You would concentrate the older and sick on Medicaid but Medicare is going bankrupt in 17 years. Now that is not me, that is the CMS actuaries who are running it."
Murphy responded that Cassidy's reasoning included good questions about how the plan would play out.
"You don't want to bill the system in which you would push off the sick or the very expensive into Medicare and all of those questions could be answered in a legislative debate," he said. "I just think it's time to start thinking and talking about some bigger ideas."
Murphy also said the foundation of the system we are in right now is not working. "I live in a state in which we've had a massive consolidation of both insurers and providers. The current foundation of our system right now just fundamentally doesn't work because there is not enough competition either on the payment side or on the provider side and we have to start admitting that."
"That we may have to instead of just continuing to patch an existing system of provision make some big radical changes," he said. "Single-payer is certainly a big radical change but you can test the theory behind single-payer by giving everybody access to the Medicare benefit."