Steve Forbes: Pelosi's 'Medicare-for-all' strategy looks a lot like a big wooden horse

Never underestimate House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Employing a strategy straight out of ancient Greece, she is quietly building a Trojan horse that could bring down our health care system, pushing us into socialized medicine and all the perils that would entail. Republicans must stand united against her clever, nefarious plan.

Pelosi realizes that "Medicare-for-all" as envisaged by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and a few other left-wing Democratic presidential candidates will not fly in the current Congress. It might be popular with the Democratic fringe, but most Republicans and even some Democrats understand that it would mean the loss of personal choice, multi-trillion dollar cost increases, and the surrender of our health care to bureaucrats and politicians.

Medicare-for-all would wipe out the entire American insurance industry, taking with it all exchange plans and all employer and union-provided health care coverage. Half a million U.S. jobs would be eliminated.

MAJORITY OF HOUSE DEMS NOW SUPPORT 'MEDICARE-FOR-ALL'

But Pelosi, ultra-liberal that she is at heart, still craves "Medicare-for-all" as much as anyone. She just knows she’s going to have to be tricky to get it done.

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Here’s the trick. She plans to offer up a plan portrayed as a middle-of-the-road compromise. It will incorporate the small steps toward socialized medicine that some misinformed Republicans in Congress and the administration are already considering. Those include such ideas as inflation caps, foreign indexing, government arbitration, and other socialist-style price-setting schemes.

Implementing any of those strategies would be bad news for patients. Inflation caps would impose penalty taxes triggered by arbitrary rules measuring drug prices against the rate of inflation, ignoring natural market forces and upending Medicare Part D's solid track record of making prescriptions more affordable for seniors.

Basing U.S. drug prices on average prices paid in European socialized health care systems by adopting foreign price indexing would deter pharmaceutical investment and innovation, and restrict patient access to cutting-edge treatments. Bringing in outside government arbitrators to impose price controls on private-sector cost negotiations would do the same, hindering research and reducing patient access.

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Pelosi’s plot is already in motion. In August, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, oversaw a bill that included drug price-setting policies similar to those proposed by Sanders. With addendums, the bill eventually contained a wish list of liberal health care policies, all bearing the Republican chairman’s de facto stamp of approval.

Most Republicans on the committee correctly opposed the legislation, but some technocrats in the White House appear supportive of not only the government price-fixing provisions it endorses but also drug importation, and have held private meetings with Pelosi’s staff to find areas for compromise.

That is Pelosi’s road to "Medicare-for-all." She will portray herself as the voice of reason, with a compromise solution for health care reform. And eventually, inch by inch, "Medicare-for-all" will someday become the law of the land.

The fact that "Medicare-for-all" gains any traction whatsoever with mainstream Americans is a testimony to the Democrats’ ability to mischaracterize it. They heavily emphasize cost savings in their sales pitch, glossing over the real impacts of this plan on patients.

In a health care system already overburdened with red tape and money wasted on administrative costs, "Medicare-for-all" would bring government bureaucrats into the mix, giving them the power to not only fix prices but also make key decisions about who receives what kind of care.

Patients and their doctors should have the power to make those life-affecting choices, not politically appointed government bean counters.

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To top it off, the "Medicare-for-all" cost savings Democrats love to tout don’t exist. A study from George Mason University found that Sanders-style Medicare-for-all would cost the federal government an additional $32.6 trillion in the first 10 years of implementation (2022-2031.) Federal health care commitments would equal 10.7 percent of GDP in 2022, 12.7 percent in 2031, and continue to go up from there.

Pelosi sees a path to victory on this, one that can only be blocked by focused Republicans who stand up in opposition now and make sure the American public knows the truth about "Medicare-for-all." Once Nancy’s big wooden horse makes it inside the gates, it could be too late to stop her.

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