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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Xavier Becerra confirmation would be a dream come true for single-payer advocates

Tomorrow, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra will appear before the Senate for his confirmation hearing as President Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.

If Becerra’s career in public office is any indication, he’ll do everything in his power to exert greater government control over our healthcare system. Mark my words, it will be to the detriment of patients and taxpayers alike.

During his 24 years representing parts of Los Angeles in Congress, Becerra co-sponsored “Medicare for All” legislation four times. After replacing Kamala Harris as attorney general of California in 2017, following her election to the Senate in 2016, Becerra announced that he would “absolutely” support Medicare for All “if we had an opportunity to put that forward in the state of California.”

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If confirmed, he could make that dream a reality.

As HHS secretary, Becerra would have the power to approve waivers that could allow states to build their own single-payer systems without congressional approval. Some states may be eager to take him up on that. Some lawmakers in New York are planning this year to reintroduce the New York Health Act, which would ban private health insurance and enroll all New Yorkers in a new state-run health plan. Legislators in California have planned a renewed push for a single-payer system this year, too.

These schemes are startlingly expensive and would result in worse care for patients.

In both New York and California, the cost of single-payer systems would be bigger than each state’s existing budget. Patients would have to deal with long waits and rationed care. The mission of HHS is to “enhance the health and well-being of all Americans.” Becerra’s commitment to more government in the healthcare sector is at odds with that mission.

Sally C. Pipes is president, CEO, and Thomas W. Smith fellow in healthcare policy at the Pacific Research Institute. Her latest book is False Premise, False Promise: The Disastrous Reality of Medicare for All. Follow her on Twitter @sallypipes.



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