At his town hall on March 15, Rep. Greg Walden cited his journalism studies as the reason he likes to deal in facts. So let’s look at some facts.
In a media release from Feb. 6, Rep. Greg Walden was quoted as saying: “We know that this plan (Medicare for all) would …
“— Take away private health insurance from more than 150 million Americans” – likely true, because it would replace private insurance with Medicare for all
“— End Medicare as we know it,” because it would create Medicare for all
“— And rack up more than $32 trillion in costs,” which is his calculation for a 10-year period, or about $3.2 trillion per year.
That compares to total annual health care spending now of $3.5 trillion, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
So, using his and the CMS numbers, Medicare for all would save $300 billion per year, or $3 trillion over 10 years.
There’s more. Health economists from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst just released a report, which finds that Medicare for All would generate national health care savings of more than $5 trillion over 10 years.
Walden also alleges in his news release that Medicare for all would lead to “delays in accessing health services.”
From my experience with Medicare, for me, I never have delays greater than what I had when I was a private payer.
So, why would Walden oppose Medicare for all?
Well, let’s follow the money.
During the last election cycle, his combined campaign contributions included $601,100 from big pharma and $534,600 from health care professionals (i.e. administrators). This according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Blue Cross Blue Shield, one of those health insurance companies that would stand to lose out from a shift to Medicare for all, gave his treasury nearly $70,000.
His largest source of funds — over 50 percent — is political action committees.
His largest PAC sector was Health Care, with nearly a $1 million in contributions.
The largest chunk of that was the nearly $400,000 from makers of drugs and other health care products. Medicare for all would foster negotiated reductions in drug costs.
Drug costs for the last three years have increased an average of 10 percent per year.
The Peterson-Kaiser Health Tracker projects more increases — from 3.7 percent this year to 5.7 percent in 2027.
All Americans’ wages, on the other hand, have increased an average 3.4 percent since the Great Recession, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The drug dealers are winning.
This is why I think Walden should quit the scare-mongering, reach across the aisle, do a huge favor for his constituents — as opposed to his campaign contributors — and support Medicare for all.
Most Americans — 56 percent — support Medicare for all.
Even more — 77 percent — support Medicare buy-in for people aged 50 to 64.
Heck, 69 percent of Republicans support Medicare buy-in.
As my Mama used to say, shake a leg, Greg.
Stuart Watson lives in Hood River.