Sally Pipes threatens us with Medicare for All

Democrats' Plan B For Medicare: Medicare For All

By Sally Pipes
Forbes, September 6, 2011

Democrats know the individual mandate might go up in smoke. So they’ve started strategizing a constitutionally sound means of achieving the ever-elusive goal of “universal coverage.”

Their preferred remedy? “Medicare-for-All,” a term popularized by the late Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) who supported a single-payer, government run healthcare system.

Former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich laid out the basic idea in a recent op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle. “So what do Obama and the Democrats do if the individual mandate in the new health care law gets struck down by the Supreme Court?” Reich asked. “Immediately propose what they should have proposed right from the start — universal health care based on Medicare-for-All, financed by payroll taxes.”

This notion has been floated in progressive policy circles in the past. It’s a pure distillation of their government-heavy approach to health care reform. Typically, though, the idea’s been shelved out of fears of political blowback.

Today, when the government extracts Medicare taxes from people’s paychecks, it’s forcing them to assent to this deal: Hand over a slice of your paycheck now, and get government-sponsored health insurance in old age.

Of course, Americans are not allowed to opt out of that deal — just like they won’t be able to opt out of the individual mandate. But unlike the mandate, the taxes that finance Medicare are not in danger of being deemed unconstitutional.

If the individual mandate is actually struck down, Medicare-for-All may become the new rallying cry for progressive luminaries. And if President Obama wins a second term, he may look to heed that cry.


By Don McCanne, MD

As a Canadian libertarian now serving as President and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, an organization advocating for free market solutions to America's problems, Sally Pipes is issuing a warning that "Medicare-for-All may become the new rallying cry for progressive luminaries." Further, "if President Obama wins a second term, he may look to heed that cry." Don't we wish!