Obama budget official: ‘Medicare for All’ is Democrat version of GOP’s ‘repeal and replace’

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Peter Orszag, CEO of Financial Advisory at Lazard Ltd., speaking at the CNBC Healthy Returns conference in New York on May 21, 2019.

Astrid Stawiarz | CNBC

Democratic proposals for a government-run health-care system are the equivalent of Republican bids pushing to repeal and replace Obamacare, and they will never pass, President Barack Obama‘s former budget chief said Tuesday.

“Medicare for All” will never be implemented in the U.S. because the “details” are “too hard,” former Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag said at CNBC’s Healthy Returns conference in New York. Instead, the public will begin to see a “bogeyman” version of government-run health care emerge after the 2020 presidential election.

“Single-payer is the Democratic equivalent of repeal and replace. It’ll never be legislated, because the details are too hard,” said Orszag, now CEO of financial advisory at Lazard.

President Donald Trump, who has long opposed Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, failed to rally the GOP behind an effort in 2017 to repeal and replace it, as he promised during his campaign.

A number of Democratic proposals already making the campaign rounds call for eliminating private health insurance and replacing it with a universal Medicare plan. Lawmakers say it would help reduce administrative inefficiencies and costs in the U.S. health-care system. Most recently, presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., unveiled a bill that would create a government-run system to provide health insurance for all Americans.

Analysts say actually implementing “Medicare for All” would be tough even if Sanders won. Democrats would need to hold on to their edge in the U.S. House and win at least three new Senate seats in the 2020 election to regain control of Congress. Then they would likely need 60 votes in the Senate and two-thirds of the House to overcome any potential filibusters.

The possibility has CEOs of major health-care companies worried too.

The sharpest rebuke came from UnitedHealth Group CEO David Wichmann, who said that “Medicare for All” would “surely destabilize” the U.S. health system.

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