Ocasio-Cortez Defends Single-Payer Health Care by Citing Reduced 'Funeral Expenses'

August 9, 2018

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defended her push for a "Medicare for all" health care system on Wednesday in part by citing the reduced cost of funeral expenses it would bring about.

CNN host Chris Cuomo brought up the "sticker shock" of a single-payer system to his guest, noting such a proposal didn't even work in a blue state like Vermont. Ocasio-Cortez, who burst onto the national scene when she upset Rep. Joe Crowley (D., N.Y.) in the Democratic primary in June, deflected by saying the current system causes sticker shock.

"We’re paying for this system," she said. "Americans have the sticker shock of health care as it is, and what we’re also not talking about is why aren’t we incorporating the cost of all the funeral expenses of those who died because they can’t afford access to health care? That is part of the cost of our system."

"Why don’t we talk about the cost of reduced productivity because of people who need to go on disability, because of people who are not able to participate in our economy because they are having issues like diabetes or they don’t have access to the health care that they need?" she added.

In addition to implying people would stop dying with Medicare for all, she also called the monthly payment Americans make on health care a "tax," which was incorrect. Those payments, as noted by Hot Air, do not go to the government but rather are health care premiums. The tax the Supreme Court referred to in upholding Obamacare as constitutional in 2012 was the penalty for not having health care collected by the IRS, better known as the individual mandate.

Ocasio-Cortez and fellow democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) have cited a recent study released by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University as proof that a single-payer system would save $2 trillion over the next ten years, but fact-checkers write their conclusions are inaccurate.

As noted by the Washington Post, the Mercatus study found there would be an increase of $32.6 trillion in health care spending over the next decade, not simply that it would cost that much. In addition, the report's author, Charles Blahous, wrote Sanders' claim that his proposal would save the U.S. $2 trillion over the next decade was based on the unrealistic assumption of massive administrative and drug cost savings, as well as "healthcare providers operating under M4A will be reimbursed at rates more than 40 percent lower than those currently paid by private health insurance."

Ocasio-Cortez said the Koch Brothers funded the study and it was likely to be slanted as a result, a misleading claim. The Kochs are are a financial supporter of Mercatus but had nothing to do with their health care study, according to Blahous. Sanders also misleadingly thanked the Kochs for "sponsoring the study" in a viral tweet.