CBO says move to single-payer could be disruptive | News Coverage from USA

CBO says move to single-payer could be disruptive

WASHINGTON – As “Medicare for All” increasingly becomes a battle cry for Democrats on Capitol Hill and those running for president, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office weighed in Wednesday on how difficult it could be to move to a single government health care system.

“The transition toward a single-payer system could be complicated, challenging, and potentially disruptive,” budget analysts wrote.

The report was issued a day after a House committee held a hearing on a bill supported by more than 100 House Democrats that would move the nation to a single, government insurer in two years.

CBO said establishing a single-payer system would be a major undertaking that would involve substantial changes in how people get health care, what care they get, how much providers are paid and who pays the bills.

The report also said:

  •  A single-payer system could substantially reduce the number of uninsured, which currently averages about 29 million people a month. But if undocumented immigrants are not allowed to participate, about 11 million U.S. residents could end up without coverage. (About half of undocumented immigrants have coverage now.)
  • The changes could significantly affect the U.S. economy. The magnitude of the effect is hard to predict because the evidence CBO would rely on to make those predictions comes from much smaller changes to the health care system.
  • Whether the nation would end up spending more or less on health care would depend on key features such as how much health care providers would be paid and whether patients would be required to share some of the costs.
  • Benefits of a single-payer system could include lower administrative costs and more incentives to improve people’s health. But patients may also have longer wait times or reduced access to care if there aren’t enough physicians to meet increased demand. 
  • Expanding access to health insurance through a multi-payer system instead of a single-payer model could be less disruptive and give patients greater choice. But the nation would probably spend more on health care than it would under a single-payer system.


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