A closer look at Sanders’ claims about his plans for ‘Medicare for All’

Capitol Report

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – As we near North Carolina’s critical March 3 primary vote, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders is a front-runner in the Tar Heel State, discussing his platform with CBS17.

To view the interview with Sanders, click here.

A central piece of his campaign is his Medicare for All proposal, which he discussed in detail during an appearance in Durham on Friday. Over the course of a few years, Sanders would open up Medicare to younger and younger people until the entire country is covered.

CBS17 is taking a closer look at some of the claims Sanders makes to justify implementing Medicare for All.

“We are spending twice as much per person on health care as the people of any other country,” he said.

According to the Peterson Center on Healthcare and Kaiser Family Foundation, the U.S. spent an average of $10,224 per person on healthcare in 2017, leading all other comparable countries. The next closest was Switzerland at $8,009 per person.

On average, the Peterson Center and KFF found among 12 countries, including the U.S., they spent an average of $5,280 per person on healthcare, roughly half of what the U.S. spent per person that year. To view more on this, click here.

Sanders also said, “Under Medicare for All, people will continue to go to any doctor they want.”

As Sanders envisions it, healthcare providers would have to participate. According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the vast majority already do accept patients on Medicare, with 25,810 currently opting out.

The Congressional Budget Office has pointed out Medicare reimburses doctors at a lower rate than private insurance companies.

Critics of Medicare for All have pointed to wait times experienced by patients in Canada.

A study by the Fraser Institute in Canada found people there waited on average about 21 weeks last year to see a specialist after getting a referral.

The Peterson Center and KFF found in 2016, 43 percent of adults in Canada reported being able to get an appointment with a doctor or nurse the same day or the next day when they were sick. In the U.S., 51 percent of people reported being able to do that.

Both countries perform below average compared to similar developed countries, where overall 57 percent of people said they got timely appointments. To view more, click here.

Sanders has faced criticism, including from among Democrats, for not disclosing a more detailed plan for how to pay for Medicare for All.

Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer said, “His refusal to tell us how he will pay for his plan adds unnecessary financial risk to achieving health care as a right for every person. I’m calling on Bernie today to finally disclose the actual price tag, and tell the American people exactly how he will pay for it.”

When asked about that by CBS17, he said he’d outlined several options but didn’t point to a specific one. He did acknowledge the plan would lead to higher taxes for middle class Americans, but he said overall healthcare costs would go down, as people would no longer have co-payments or deductibles.

The Urban Institute, a nonprofit research organization in Washington, D.C., has estimated “federal government spending would increase by $2.8 trillion in 2020, or $34 trillion over 10 years.”

More headlines from CBS17.com:

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