A crucial GOP senator says that after weeks of effort, there’s not enough agreement among lawmakers to advance a small package of bipartisan changes that would stabilize Obamacare’s health insurance markets.

“We have worked hard and in good faith, but have not found the necessary consensus among Republicans and Democrats to put a bill in the Senate leaders’ hands that could be enacted,” said Senator Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who leads the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee.

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Though we have widely divergent views on health policy — one of us preferring a German-style system (Dr. Weinberg), the other a more consumer-directed one (Dr. Chen) — we both believe that single-payer health care, including the proposal advanced by Senator Sanders, is the wrong choice for the country.

We recently conducted an analysis of international health systems and concluded that single-payer advocates are substantially overstating the prevalence and success of such systems. While many other countries have universal health systems and feature more government control over individual health care decisions, almost none are actually single-payer. And all of them are wrestling with largely the same challenges Americans are, making different but equally difficult trade-offs on cost, quality and access.

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Sen. Patty Murray has agreed to a key demand of Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which could potentially move bipartisan health care talks forward. Murray has agreed to “significant state flexibility” in order to reach an agreement, per a senior Democratic aide.

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Kaiser’s tracking poll in July found 53 percent in favor of having all Americans get their health insurance from the government; 43 percent were against that. Opposition climbed to 60 percent when people were asked to consider that such a plan would call for higher taxes for many.

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A true single-payer health care system would mean the discontinuation of employer-sponsored health insurance. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ new single-payer proposal proceeds along these lines, making it unlawful for employers to duplicate the offerings of the new single-payer system once that system is fully phased in. However, a truly single-payer framework is not the only approach policymakers could take.

Dr. Tevi Troy, author of the paper and CEO of the American Health Policy Institute, says, “The federal government would be taking on the responsibility of providing health care to all Americans, a change so drastic with consequences ultimately so uncertain that it seems unlikely to win a majority of votes in Congress, especially considering how politically unfeasible it has proven on a much smaller scale even in very liberal states like Vermont.”

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While some progressives campaigned this week for “Medicare for all,” a group of moderate House Democrats aligned themselves with a more modest push to stabilize the ACA, arguing that it could spur broader health care reforms in the future. Thirty-five of the 61 members of the New Democrat Coalition sent a letter Friday urging the leaders of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to agree on a bipartisan bill to keep premiums from rising further for Obamacare enrollees next year.

On Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced a single-payer health care bill that would create a national health insurance program, charting a stem-to-stern reshaping of the country’s health care system. The bill would make it so that Americans would get health coverage simply by showing a new government-issued card and would no longer owe out-of-pocket expenses like deductibles. But Sanders’ description of his measure omitted specifics about how much it would cost and final decisions about how he would pay for it.

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The Democratic Party now is, for all intents and purposes, the party of single-payer health insurance.

Big mistake.

Democrats are committing themselves to years more of treacherous health care debate, at a time when there are more pressing issues to confront. They are emulating Donald Trump’s penchant for quick-fix, bumper-sticker solutions that prove to be, in his own words, more “complicated” once in power. And instead of maintaining a candid relationship with its ideological base in order to temper expectations, the party establishment is indulging it, risking bitter disappointment in the future.

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If Bernie Sanders wants to follow Medicare as his model, then the Sanders plan could easily earn another moniker: Benefits for Billionaires. An analysis released by the Congressional Budget Office in August demonstrates how Medicare currently provides significant financial benefits to seniors at all income levels, including the wealthy. The CBO found that at every income level, seniors received more in Medicare benefits than they paid in Medicare taxes. Men in the highest income quintile—the top 20% of income—received a net lifetime benefit from Medicare of nearly $50,000, even after taking into account the Medicare taxes and premiums they paid.

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As ObamaCare continues to collapse, options for quality, affordable health care move further out of reach for many Americans. This week, Senator Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., and other Senate Democrats plan to offer their solution: a complete Washington takeover of America’s health care system.

A majority of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of their own “single-payer” legislation. This idea is good for whipping up the far-left base – and bad for everyone else. It will deliver worse care, inevitably leading to rationing. It also will be outrageously expensive for everyone.

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