Last year, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled
what would become the signature piece of legislation that he’d build his 2020 presidential run
around — the same one he used for his 2016 run: “Medicare for all.” The plan, which would expand Medicare to the
point where it became a single-payer program, was estimated to cost $32 trillion over 10
years. He’s gone further than that since then,
calling for all medical debts to be canceled and to ignore the debt in credit scores. “We’re addressing it on both ends,”
Sanders said on Saturday, according to The New York Times. “We’re addressing it now by trying to
help the people who have past due medical bills. And we’re addressing it by finally
creating a health care system that guarantees coverage to people without any premiums, without
any deductibles, without any out-of-pocket expenses.” It doesn’t take much to realize that this
isn’t going to work. But don’t just take my word for it. Take Bernie Sanders’ word back in 1987. Yes, unbelievably, it seems that Sanders actually
had more sense when he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont, and had recently honeymooned in the
Soviet Union. According to The Free Beacon, Sanders was
speaking with Dr. Milton Terris’, the editor of the Journal of Public Health Policy, on
his public access cable tv show “Bernie Speaks with the Community.” In a clip from the interview, Sanders can
be seen saying that “you want to guarantee that all people have access to health care
as you do in Canada.” However, he then made a prediction his future
self probably wishes he hadn’t made. “But I think what we understand is that
unless we change the funding system and the control mechanisms in this country to do that
— for example, if we expanded Medicaid to everybody, everybody had a Medicaid card,
we would be spending such an astronomical sum of money that, you know, we would bankrupt
the nation,” he said. “Maybe you want to talk a little bit about
that and why, in Canada, under their national health system, you can have access for all
people — and yet, per capita, it is less expensive than in the United States.” Now, none of the structural problems that
Sanders talks about have changed in the intervening years. In fact, care here has gotten more
expensive and de facto single-payer healthcare isn’t going to solve that. Furthermore, keep in mind that Sanders is
using Canada as his polestar. I’m fairly certain we’re all familiar with the Canadian
system and its attendant problems, but that’s apparently what he wants to emulate. I merely
leave that out there for summary judgment. And keep in mind, Sanders wants to do this
on top of everything else he wants to do. He wants to cancel medical debt. He wants
to cancel student debt. He wants to launch a more modest version of the Green New Deal. All of that costs money — money that we
don’t have. Something Bernie Sanders knew back in 1987. He knows it now, too — but
he’s gotten a lot more cynical over the years. That’s a very dangerous thing for America
and our health care.