The American College of Physicians’ Support for Medicare for All Means Nothing

Op-EdAppeared in Breitbart on February 22, 2020By Alfredo Ortiz and Dr. Tom Price
The American College of Physicians (ACP), the nation’s second-largest physician group, is making headlines for coming out in favor of Medicare for All. Its decision is being hailed as courageous and credible because most healthcare industry players oppose this healthcare reform. The group’s vice president Bob Dougherty calls its position “a crack in the foundation of organized medicine’s opposition to single-payer.”

Yet in reality, ACP’s support for Medicare for All is just par for the course for this organization that’s long put ideological concerns ahead of doctors’ and patients’.

ACP made similar headlines a decade ago when it backed Obamacare. And look how that’s turned out. Obamacare has been a disaster, with skyrocketing prices, fewer choices, and bipartisan calls for reform. ACP should have lost all credibility for hitching its wagon to the Obamacare supernova. Yet only in Washington can organizations make such grievous errors without reputational consequences.

In addition to supporting seemingly every Democrat healthcare position, ACP throws its support behind a wide variety of left-wing causes, including gun controlPlanned Parenthood, and climate change mandates. Its approval of single-payer shouldn’t raise any more eyebrows than the Center for American Progress’ or the New York Times’.

“Physicians are increasingly frustrated with paperwork,” said Doherty in justifying the group’s decision to back Medicare for All. Indeed, doctors currently spend between one-third and one-half of their time on busywork, which makes them less productive and drives up healthcare costs. Left unsaid is that Obamacare — through its myriad of reporting mandates such as cumbersome electronic health records — is largely responsible for this paperwork burden. More government intrusion in American healthcare under a single-payer system would not lighten this load.

Among the biggest victims of Medicare for All would be the doctors whom ACP claims to represent. Medicare payment rates often aren’t enough to cover physicians’ costs. According to Charles Blahous, a former Medicare trustee, Medicare for All would reduce physician payment rates by more than 40 percent, exacerbating doctor burnout and shortages that are already widespread thanks to Obamacare. By supporting Medicare for All, ACP is supporting dramatic pay cuts for its members.

Patients would face the same type of rationing, wait times, and bureaucratic inertia that currently plagues the government-run Medicaid and Veteran’s Administration health programs. Costs would balloon as would the taxes necessary to cover them. Even Bernie Sanders’ home state of Vermont spiked its single-payer plans in 2014 after the associated fiscal and economic impact was realized. If Medicare for All can’t work there, it can’t work anywhere.

A better healthcare reform alternative is the Job Creators Network Foundation’s “Healthcare for You”  framework, which prioritizes supply-side healthcare reforms that would increase choices rather than government control. In practice, this means deregulating insurance markets and allowing state officials to set insurance parameters while maintaining protections for those with preexisting conditions. Instead of the one-size-fits-all health care plans that proliferate today, Healthcare for You would unleash a flood of new insurance options — from Cadillac to catastrophic — that patients could tailor to their unique needs.

By also prioritizing direct medical care, transparent prices, and expanded tax-free health management accounts (also called health savings accounts), a true health care market would emerge, empowering patients to shop for coverage while prices fall. Americans could tailor their healthcare plans to their unique needs, making healthcare and coverage personalized not centralized. The doctor-patient relationship, which is paramount for both doctors and patients, would be restored.

According to Doherty, ACP’s support for single-payer is “going to cause some other groups to say, ‘Well, if they reach this conclusion, yeah, you know, this is something we should look at.’” Given ACP’s credibility problems and ideological slant, they’d be better off looking the other way.

 

Thomas Price, a former Health and Human Services secretary and former member of Congress, is a senior health care policy fellow at the Job Creators Network. Alfredo Ortiz is the president and CEO of the Job Creators Network.