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Coins and pills on a scale If deficit spending can’t safely finance Medicare-for-all, then the alternative would have to include large federal tax increases. (Image: Shutterstock)

Enthusiasm for expanding the government health-insurance program for the elderly to cover all U.S. citizens is growing among Democratic political hopefuls. According to Dylan Scott at Vox.com, “Nearly every single rumored 2020 candidate in the Senate has backed Senator Bernie Sanders’s Medicare-for-all bill.” The idea polls well and the vast majority of seniors are satisfied with their current care under Medicare.

The financing for such an ambitious program may derail these hopes. According to a study by Charles Blahous, a researcher at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Sanders’s proposal could end up costing the federal government at least $32 trillion over 10 years. Some of the cost of a Medicare-for-all plan would be offset by decreasing expenditures of states and private health insurers. Depending on how successful Medicare-for-all would be at negotiating lower prices — especially physicians’ fees — overall health spending could even decline under universal Medicare.

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