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N.Y. Congressman Pushes 'Medicare-for-all' on 'Morning Joe'

While the uproar over a government-run public option continues in Washington, D.C. and around the country, one Democratic congressman is pushing for an even more drastic “takeover” of health care.

Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” with Joe Scarborough on Aug. 18 that he wants to see a Medicare-for-all plan instituted instead of private insurance.

Scarborough: “You actually do want the federal government to take over all of health care?”

Weiner: “When you say take over, only in as much as the federal government ‘took over’ health care for seniors 44 years ago.”

Scarborough: “But you – you want to expand that for all Americans?”

Weiner: “Correct.” “They get a 4 percent overhead, they get efficient reimbursements, there’s no profits being taken by the insurance company it goes all back to health care to patients, to pay to taxpayers.”

Many of Weiner’s arguments in favor of Medicare weren’t countered by information from Scarborough or co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Willie Geist.

For example, Weiner claimed private insurance companies have a “higher health care inflation than Medicare does.” He also claimed several times that Medicare has only 4 percent overhead.

Jeffrey H. Anderson, Ph. D., is a senior fellow for health care studies at the Pacific Research Institute. His recent reports on Medicaid and Medicare found that government-run health care “has proven to be far more expensive, not more affordable, than privately purchased care.”

“Since 1970, Medicare’s costs have risen one-third more, per patient, than the total of all health care costs in America apart from Medicare and Medicaid,” Anderson said.

As for the 4 percent overhead, the Wall Street Journal debunked this in an Oct. 29, 2007, op-ed which cited a study from the Manhattan Institute’s Benjamin Zycher.

The Journal explained that “on paper Medicare’s (administrative costs) are about 3% of outlays, compared to 11% to 14% for the private system. But Mr. Zycher notes that a more accurate measure of Medicare’s administration would include other indirect federal services, such as tax collection, which round them up by about double. Fold in the incentives for the uninsured to consume more medical services under single-payer than they do now, and those ‘savings’ are revealed as make-believe.”

Scarborough did mention that Medicare “gets in trouble” every 10 years or so by nearing bankruptcy and is scheduled to be insolvent in about eight years.

The MSNBC team also didn’t ask Weiner why doctors have been opting out of Medicare for years, refusing to accept it because of lower reimbursement rates compared to private insurance companies.

The news media have done a poor job of exposing the problems of Medicare, especially given that journalists describe a public option as “similar to Medicare.”

The Business & Media Institute found in six months of health care reform stories on ABC, CBS and NBC reporters admitted the resemblance between public option and Medicare in only 11 stories. But not a single story pointed out that the government program is heading toward an “explosive fiscal situation,” according to the CBO or that the program is a big reason for rising health costs overall.