Elizabeth Warren releases a plan to pay for Medicare for All and pledges not ‘one penny’ in middle-class tax increases

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass AP Photo/John Minchillo
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren released her much-anticipated plan to finance Medicare for All on Friday, proposing $US20.5 trillion in new federal spending.
  • In a Medium post laying out details of her plan, Warren said it wouldn’t require tax increases on the middle class, placing most of its fiscal cost on businesses and the wealthy.
  • “We don’t need to raise taxes on the middle class by one penny,” Warren wrote.
  • At the centre of Warren’s newly-unveiled plan is a proposal to shift the money that employers already pay for healthcare from private insurance companies to the government.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren released her much-anticipated plan to finance Medicare for All on Friday, proposing $US20.5 trillion in new federal spending through substantial tax increases to provide health insurance to every person in the United States.

In a Medium post laying out details of her plan, Warren said it wouldn’t require a tax hike on the middle class – a question she’s increasingly been asked in recent weeks. Most of the cost burden would fall on businesses and the wealthy.

“A key step in winning the public debate over Medicare for all will be explaining what this plan costs – and how to pay for it,” Warren said in her plan. “We don’t need to raise taxes on the middle class by one penny.”

It marks a significant contrast with her rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has championed the proposal as well but said it would require increasing taxes middle class, though maintaining it would be sharply offset by savings on the healthcare spending of Americans in the long run.

Warren is instead seeking to levy a range of new taxes on wealthy Americans, corporations and high-earning investors – and her plan calls for doubling her wealth tax to 6% on rich Americans with net worths over $US1 billion.

At the centre of Warren’s newly-unveiled plan is a proposal to shift the money that employers already pay for healthcare from private insurance companies to the government. She would also redirect healthcare spending from state governments onto Washington’s budget.

“We start by taking the money that employers are currently paying in the form of premiums to private insurance companies and have them pay it to Medicare instead,” Warren wrote in a tweet. “We cover the remaining $US11 trillion largely with taxes on big corporations, Wall Street, and the top 1%-and enforcing the tax laws we have now. Add in a targeted cut to a Defence Dept slush fund and that’s it.”

If enacted, Warren’s plan would amount a sweeping expansion of government into a healthcare system criticised as costly with vast inequalities in care. It virtually abolishes private insurance and aims to redirect healthcare spending from employers, state governments, and households onto the federal budget.

At the fourth Democratic debate earlier this month, the senator refused to say whether she’d need to raise taxes on middle-class Americans to pay for Medicare for All. She instead argued that costs would go down for those families under a single-payer system that would eliminate their co-pays and premiums.

“I will not sign a bill into law that does not lower costs for middle class families,” she insisted.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who supports a public option or “Medicare for all who want it,” called Warren’s answer “extremely evasive.”

Warren’s non-answer came after months of vagueness on the issue. In June, she finally announced she was “with Bernie,” on single-payer. Since then, pressure mounted on her to deliver the details on funding.

There is a widespread belief among economists and political strategists that single-payer would require raising taxes on the middle-class, in addition to a host of other taxes. And the Democratic candidate will likely face scepticism from experts on the targets she’s set on revenue and savings.

The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget recently assessed the progressive initiative couldn’t be paid for by solely taxing the wealthiest Americans and would require additional funding from other sources.

The Warren plan instead relies on a cost model from the Urban Institute, a liberal think-tank, which found a Medicare for All plan that eliminates deductibles and premiums while adding dental, vision and long-term care would add $US34 trillion in new government spending over a decade.

But Warren contends her plan would be aggressive in cutting wasteful spending and negotiating lower prices for care, bringing the figure of additional federal spending to $US20.5 trillion in ten years.

Sanders, on the other hand, has released a variety of options for how to finance the program, but recently refused to get into the specifics.