Democratic presidential hopeful and self-described socialist Bernie Sanders is upping the ever-mounting, rhetorical (read: probably B.S.) bids by Democratic candidates for the fickle affections of party’s left wing with a new proposal to cancel $81 billion in medical debts. The promise, contained in a — wait for it! — fundraising email, came wrapped in the usual dog’s bed of vague indignation and diffuse resentment, the bed linens of choice for an era defined by unthinking political polarization.
- Indignantly, Sanders writes to supporters and fellow travelers with, well, a request for money: “Your financial life and future should not be destroyed because you or a member of your family gets sick. I am sick and tired of seeing over 500,000 Americans declare bankruptcy each year because they cannot pay off the outrageous cost of a medical emergency or a hospital stay.”
- Never mind that America’s liberal personal bankruptcy laws are actually a relief in these cases. According to Bloomberg, per Sanders the federal government would pay off past-due medical bills in collections that have been reported to credit agencies.
- Given human nature and the endless possibilities of rent-seeking, this proposal seems fraught with potential to become another giant government handout to, in this case, collections agencies — in other words, a bandaid that does nothing to address the underlying costs of soaring medical bills.
- A smarter plan to begin tackling out-of-control insurance costs starts with getting government out of pricing schemes, as convincingly argued by AEI.