USA Today Slams 'Berniecare'

Sen. Bernie Sanders / Getty Images
May 7, 2019

USA Today's editorial board hammered Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I., Vt.) "Medicare for All" proposal, labeling it a "political pipe dream" in an editorial published Monday evening.

The piece points out the "modest health care changes are a struggle" to get through Congress, but "that seems lost on the left wing of the Democratic Party" which is "infatuated with a remake of health care far more radical than any in the past."

Sanders's proposal "has intrinsic drawbacks, most notably its soak-the-rich approach and its lack of cost controls such as copays. What stands out is the utter impracticality of getting from where things stand today to what he proposes," the editorial board writes.

"In an era of intense political polarization, no measure that disrupts insurance for more than 100 million Americans, most of them reasonably satisfied with their coverage, would get through Congress. Even if Democrats managed to reclaim the supermajority they once had, many in their own ranks would balk once they began focusing on the mechanics of leaping from today’s fragmented system to a single-payer system in one fell swoop," the editorial continues.

The Congressional Budget Office said implementing the proposal would be "complicated, challenging, and potentially disruptive," adding that "generous benefits and lower payments to health care providers could create 'a shortage of providers, longer wait times and changes in the quality of care.'"

The editors suggest Democrats focus on more modest plans to reform health care and expand access to coverage.

"None of these incremental approaches lends itself to bumper stickers, placards or campaign rallying cries. None is without consequences and potential pitfalls. Even so, they represent far more practical approaches than lurching from the present into Bernie Sanders' idea of what our national health care system ought to look like."

The libertarian Mercatus Center projected Sanders's Medicare for All proposal would increase government health care spending by $32.6 trillion over ten years and require enormous tax increases.