Ranking Member Steve Womack (R-AR) Opening Remarks at Hearing on One-Size-Fits-All Health Care Systems

Thank you, Chairman Yarmuth, and thank you to Deputy Director Mark Hadley and his team for joining us today.

We’re here to discuss a sobering report developed by CBO – at the request of our Chairman – that details some of the risks of imposing a one-size-fits-all, government-run health care system – as proposals like Medicare-for-All would do.

What’s noticeably missing from the report is a cost estimate for specific proposals. My friends across the aisle did not ask for that, and I think I know why.

While the score would be useful, we already know how much a one-size-fits-all health care system would cost the American people. Independent analyses from economists across the ideological spectrum – including George Mason University, the Urban Institute, and the American Action Forum – have projected single-payer-type proposals such as Medicare-for-All to cost at least $32 trillion.

That number bears repeating. At least $32 trillion – on top of what we’re already spending on health care. That’s at least $10 trillion more than our nation’s astronomically high $22 trillion debt. That’s roughly $10,000 per every American per year and is equivalent to 11 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) each year.

CBO states very clearly in its report that “government spending on health care would increase substantially under a single-payer system.”

How could the federal government pay for these substantial spending increases?

The report outlines four methods.

The government could impose tax hikes.

It could increase premiums.

It could rely more heavily on cost-sharing, which is another way of saying out-of-pocket-costs such as co-pays.

Or it could just add this enormous price tag to our existing debt without any pay-fors at all. If you’re someone who subscribes to Modern Monetary Theory, maybe the debt doesn’t matter to you. That’s of course not the way I see it.

Putting aside discussions about how to finance such a costly proposal, this report has been especially helpful in showing that these ideas will never work in America.

Imposing a single-payer health care system would eliminate private insurance – that includes the health care 158 million Americans receive through their employer or their union. The CBO report even warns that under this type of system, “patients would not have a choice of insurer or health benefits … [and] the public plan might not address the needs of some people.”

Further, the CBO report also explicitly points out the broader impact the proposal could have on health care.

For example, by reducing payment rates for providers – that is, payments for doctors, hospitals, and so on – the report explains there will not only be a reduction in the quality of care, there will be a reduction in the supply of care, hampering access to the treatments and services people need.

It’s clear proposals like Medicare-for-All will chase a lot of doctors out of health care. That’s not only my strong opinion. It’s backed up by hard facts.

These are just a few of the findings from the CBO report. And I expect to discuss many more with our witnesses today.

I hope my colleagues and the public will listen carefully. The consequences of what health care could become under a Democrat-controlled government will be articulated very clearly here today.

With that in mind, I urge all of my colleagues not to look at this report in isolation, but rather to look at this report in the context of existing proposals – including the Medicare-for-All Act of 2019.

Toward that end, when considering other proposals, the other side admits that more limited expansions of existing federal programs – a Medicare buy-in or Medicaid buy-in, for example – are in fact a step toward single-payer, government-run health care.

They admit this openly. This is the direction some lawmakers want to take your health care – and it will have consequences that ripple through the most personal aspects of American life, from fewer doctors and longer wait times to less access and no choices.

That’s why this conversation today is so important. With that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.