As chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Sanders is advancing a $3.5 trillion budget plan that includes expansions of Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare. Some moderate Democrats have balked at the cost. Sanders predicted Sunday that Democrats would “come together” to pass the massive package through reconciliation later this year.
The health-care reforms in the budget would funnel millions more Americans into public health coverage and put our country a stone’s throw from Senator Sanders’s longtime object: a government takeover of the health-care system.
Consider the Democrats’ proposed changes to Obamacare. As a part of its March coronavirus-relief package, Congress made federal subsidies for exchange plans more generous and opened them up to all enrollees for two years. Previously, only people making less than 400 percent of the poverty line — roughly $106,000 for a family of four — were eligible. Now, no enrollee has to pay over 8.5 percent of their income in premiums.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this two-year expansion will cost taxpayers approximately $34 billion.
Now Democrats want to extend them indefinitely as part of the budget-reconciliation package at an estimated cost of $200 billion a year.
Making that change permanent would probably drive more Americans to the exchanges. Thanks in part to the more generous subsidies, the number of Americans enrolled in Obamacare plans has reached a record high of 12.2 million.
It’d be shocking if paying people to sign up didn’t result in more Americans choosing these plans.
Unfortunately, those plans tend to be of low quality. Over 70 percent of Obamacare plans have narrow provider networks, according to an analysis from health-care consultancy Avalere.
Democrats further want to make more older adults dependent on the government for health care by reducing the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 60. That could add 20 million people to the program and cost up to $100 billion every year, according to a recent Harvard analysis.
This age group is least in need of a federal handout. Over 90 percent of those between 60 and 65 already have insurance. One recent analysis discovered that the low-income Americans the reform is meant to help could actually pay more under Medicare than they do as of now, given that many qualify for subsidized plans under Obamacare.
Furthermore, the budget-reconciliation package tries to expand public coverage for low-income Americans. Already, roughly 75 million people get coverage through Medicaid. Democrats want to form a federally funded, Medicaid-like “public option” plan for the 4.4 million people who would be eligible for the program under the terms of Obamacare yet live in one of the twelve states that have refused to expand their programs.