The Single-Payer “Jealous Care” Health Plan Comes with a Huge Price Tag
By Mark Uncapher, MCGOP Chairman
Maryland’s Democratic nominee for Governor Ben Jealous’ signature issue has been imposing a single-payer health plan on the state. Unfortunately, the media and his fellow Democrats largely avoided addressing the staggering price tag of “Jealous Care” during the primary. However, the more they hear about Ben Jealous' extreme and risky proposal, the less likely his candidacy will play well with everyday Marylanders.
It’s not just Republicans who are worried about the potential cost. The Washington Post pointed out in an editorial last year in a different context: “Single-payer health care would have an astonishingly high price tag.”
The Post went on: “Nationally the government’s price tag would be astonishing. When Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) proposed a ‘Medicare for all’ health plan during his presidential campaign, the nonpartisan Urban Institute figured that it would raise government spending by $32 trillion over 10 years, requiring a tax increase so huge that even the democratic socialist Mr. Sanders did not propose anything close to it.”
When a possible single-payer healthcare was costed for California, a legislative analysis put the cost at $400 billion annually. That level of taxes and spending would have exceeded all the revenues already generated by the state’s taxes, with a top 13.3% income tax rate and a 7.25% state sales tax.
A single-payer health care system had been adopted for Vermont in 2011. That is, until the bill came in. That state found that the cost would have been $4.3 billion a year, almost the size of the state’s entire $4.9 billion budget. It would have been paid for by an 11.5% payroll tax hike on all Vermont businesses and an income tax hike of up to 9.5%. (The state’s top income tax rate of 8.95% is already among the highest in the country.)
Faced with the sobering reality of these numbers, Vermont backed away from implementing its single-payer healthcare plan in 2014.
So how much would “Jealous Care” cost Maryland? Regrettably, Maryland’s media and Jealous Democratic opponents largely gave him a free pass when he claimed the it would “save the state money.” This is a claim which does not even pass the straight-face test. Even the architect of Jealous’ own plan acknowledges taxes would have to be raised to pay for it.
Writing about political claims that single-payer can produce big savings, The Washington Post editorialized that “medical industry players, including doctors, would likely have to get paid less and patients would have to accept different standards of access and comfort. There is little evidence most Americans are willing to accept such tradeoffs.” Those Marylanders, such as government employees, who may have traded higher salaries for better health care benefits, would see their benefits slashed to a single level of care.
The bottom line is that Ben Jealous’ risky blend of ideological extremism and recklessness would take money out of the pockets of every single Marylander to impose a one-size fits all health care. That provides a stark contrast to the steady, common sense approach of Governor Larry Hogan.