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“Call for a vote, Mr. Chairman!”


Prof. Chuck Blahous of George Mason University’s Mercatus Center and I were called by Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee as witnesses to explain the serious problems with his legislation to put the federal government in total control of our health system. And we highlighted the benefits of a patient-centered system based upon choices, competition and innovation.

The divisiveness on this issue is so clear it’s hard to find any center ground. That’s largely because the passion for Medicare for All is so detached from reality:

The Left insists nurses and doctors would spend almost all their time on patient care, not forms and paperwork…Administrative costs would virtually vanish by shutting down insurance companies and other private players…Health costs would plummet while life expectancy would dramatically increase as everyone has access to all the care they need any time.

You can see how Chuck and I responded yesterday at the hearing:  

You will see that we responded with facts and evidence to show how false the Left’s promises are—and how completely detached from reality they are with their unbelievably derisive accusations about how absolutely horrible health care in America is today.

And the senators who invited us hit the mark in their comments and questions.  

Ranking Member Lindsey Graham (R-SC) kept asking the chairman to call for “a vote on your proposal by this committee this year.”  Silence from the chairman.  “That’s because most of your colleagues would jump out the window if they had to vote on this,” Sen. Graham said. 

And if the U.S. system is so horrible, “Why are so many people coming to America?” Sen. Graham asked. “Why aren’t we leaving to go to someplace else where you don’t die in the streets” and where you don’t have to live under “one of the most disgusting examples of health care on the planet?”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) talked about governments’ “miserable failures” in response to the Covid-19 pandemic on testing, shutdowns, school closures, restrictions on access to treatments, and more. “Why in the world would anybody put government more in charge of health care?” and “What makes you think there would be less bureaucracy with government-run health care? … There would be greater bureaucracy, more rules, less innovation, and higher costs.”

Like Sen. Johnson, two other senators commented based upon their personal experience as employers before being elected and the value of free enterprise and competition. 

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) reinforced that Medicare for All “would abolish the current Medicare program and make private insurance illegal…have the federal government deciding which procedures you get and when you get them. Think about that…Do you want the government to make these choices for you?”

And Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) talked about his success running a companyand providing quality health coverage to his employees, cutting costs by 50% with no co-pays.  Instead of government taking over, he says the U.S. should “embrace transparency, embrace competition, embrace educating health care consumers” in order to take costs out of the system.

Finally, many thanks to Sen. Graham for highlighting the Health Care Choices plan in his remarks. 

Sen.  Graham has provided ideas and leadership for the work of policy experts from 82 organizations in the Health Policy Consensus Group to develop proposals that would unleash the innovation and energy pent up in our health sector, with choice and competition and more options of affordable coverage while doing a better job of caring for those with the greatest health care needs. 

It’s vital to switch to this path before our $4 trillion health sector, already hugely distorted by far too much misguided government policy, defaults into total government control.


Grace-Marie Turner is president of the Galen Institute.