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Bernie Sanders Thanks Koch Brothers for 'Accidentally Making the Case for Medicare for All'

"I suspect that that is not what the Koch brothers intended to do, but that is what's in the study of the Mercatus Center."

Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) hold signs during an event on health care September 13, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Sen. Sanders held an event to introduce the Medicare for All Act of 2017. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

After a study by the Koch Brothers-funded Mercatus Center that was clearly designed as a deceptive attack on Medicare for All inadvertently bolstered the economic case for single-payer—which is rapidly growing in popularity among the public and U.S. lawmakers—Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Monday released a video thanking Charles and David Koch for backing an analysis showing that his plan for universal coverage would save $2 trillion over ten years.

"Let me thank the Koch brothers, of all people, for sponsoring a study that shows that Medicare for All would save the American people $2 trillion dollars," Sanders said. "I suspect that that is not what the Koch brothers intended to do, but that is what's in the study of the Mercatus Center."

"At a time when the United States spends far more per capita on healthcare than any other country on Earth, almost 18 percent of our GDP, a Medicare for All healthcare system would save the average family significant sums of money," the Vermont senator added.

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Speaking to The Intercept on Monday, health policy experts and co-founders of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler argued that even the "whopping" $2 trillion in savings projected by the Koch-backed study vastly overstates the costs of implementing Medicare for All and "grossly" understates the savings that would result.

"The Mercatus Center's estimate of the cost of implementing Sen. Bernie Sanders' Medicare for All Act projects outlandish increases in the utilization of medical care, ignores vast savings under single-payer reform, and fails to even mention the extensive and well-documented evidence on single-payer systems in other nations—which all spend far less per person on health care than we do," Himmelstein and Woolhandler said. 

According to an analysis by David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler viewed by The Intercept's Ryan Grim and Zaid Jilani, the Mercatus Center's "report undercounts administrative savings by more than $8.3 trillion over 10 years. Taking those savings into account would lower Blahous's estimate from $32.6 trillion to $24.3 trillion."

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