This week, Elizabeth Warren released her plan for paying for Medicare For All (“MFA”). The plan embodies everything that makes me support Ms. Warren’s campaign. The reactions to the plan — especially from the Joe Biden campaign — epitomize the stranglehold the health insurance industry has on the media and too many Democrats. I specifically reject the lies of Mr. Biden and his relentlessly repeated misinformation about M4A.
The plan is worth a careful read. Here are a few excerpts that I like, but I make no claim that these are representative or the most important. They are simply the parts that grabbed me as I read them (emphasis mine):
All my plans start with our shared values. There are two absolute non-negotiables when it comes to health care:
One: No American should ever, ever die or go bankrupt because of health care costs. No more GoFundMe campaigns to pay for care. No more rationing insulin. No more choosing between medicine and groceries.
Two: Every American should be able to see the doctors they need and get their recommended treatments, without having to figure out who is in-network. No for-profit insurance company should be able to stop anyone from seeing the expert or getting the treatment they need.
Health care is a human right, and we need a system that reflects our values. That system is Medicare for All.
[the Medicare for All Act] leaves open a number of key design decisions that will affect its overall cost, and the bill does not directly incorporate specific revenue measures. While much of this ambiguity results from the reasonable choice to delegate significant implementation discretion to the Executive Branch, it has also allowed opponents of Medicare for All to make up their own price tags and try to scare middle class families about the prospect of tax increases — despite the conclusions of expert after expert after expert that it is possible to eventually move to a Medicare for All system that gives both high quality coverage for everybody and dramatically lowers costs for middle class families.
The best way to fight misinformation is with facts. That’s why today, I’m filling in the details and releasing a plan that describes how I would implement the long-term policy prescriptions of the Medicare for All Act and how to pay for it.
Not every candidate for president supports moving to a system of Medicare for All. Some who support Medicare for All will have different ideas about how to finance and structure it. And everybody knows that there must be a real transition. But you don’t get what you don’t fight for – and my view is clear.
Over the next ten years, individuals will spend $11 trillion on health care in the form of premiums, deductibles, copays, and out-of-pocket costs. Under my Medicare for All plan, that amount will drop from $11 trillion to practically zero.
Let’s start with a basic fact: American companies are already paying a lot for health care for their employees. They are projected to pay nearly $9 trillion over the next ten years, mostly on employer contributions for employee health insurance and on health-related expenses for employees under workers’ compensation and long-term disability. My idea is that instead of these companies sending those payments to private insurance companies, they would send payments to the federal government for Medicare in the form of an Employer Medicare Contribution.
In fact, it’ll be a better deal than what they have now: companies will pay less than they otherwise would have, saving $200 billion over the next ten years.
Medicare for All puts a whole lot of money back in the American people’s pockets. One way it does that is by taking the share of premiums employees are responsible for paying through employer-sponsored insurance – that line on pay stubs each week or month that says “health insurance” – and returning it to working people. Congratulations on the raise!
And higher take-home pay for workers also means additional tax revenue just from applying our existing taxes – approximately $1.15 trillion if we apply average effective tax rates.
As I wrote earlier, this is a detailed plan and requires a careful read.
The Joe Biden campaign reacted with this (emphasis mine):
“For months, Elizabeth Warren has refused to say if her health care plan would raise taxes on the middle class, and now we know why: because it does,” said Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield. “Senator Warren would place a new tax of nearly $9 trillion that will fall on American workers.”
This distortion is, at best, a Microsoft-help-style response. You know, where you see a menu in something like MSWord with a command like “Repair document” (or some similarly vague phrase), accompanied by a little help icon. Since the phrase looks like it might make major and unpredictable changes, a user is tempted to open the help icon in hopes of learning what the command actually does. The resulting pop-up says “This command repairs problems in the document”. Literally true and utterly useless.
It is literally true that the employer pays a tax instead of a premium. This literal truth misinforms the listener. The amount of that tax is less than the premium (by about 2%). The employer pays less. The resulting out-of-pocket change to the employee is a net positive because the rest of the health care costs that currently burden the employee are removed. The employer and employee win. The health insurance industry loses.
The employer and employee win. The health insurance industry loses. Joe Biden opposes it. Who do you think Joe Biden actually cares about?
Ms. Warren’s plan transfers virtually ALL health care costs to the government. In so doing, it removes all insurance carrier profits and overhead. The result is improved health care for less money. Less money from each of us, and a lower share of the GDP dedicated to health care. When the rest of the first world has done this or something similar, the result is much improved outcomes.
Americans would pay less, get better health care, and be healthier. The health insurance industry is dismantled. Elizabeth Warren proposes it. Joe Biden opposes it. Who do you think each candidate actually represents?
Joe Biden is once again spreading misinformation in order to benefit the deep-pocketed health insurance industry that he has represented so effectively in his decades of representing Delaware and Delaware’s deep-pocketed big-business executives. Mr. Biden’s campaign would have hundreds of millions of already-suffering Americans pay more and more money for ever-worsening care while a literal handful of insurance company executives benefit from ever-increasing profits and executive compensation.
Elizabeth Warren has presented a substantive and realistic path for moving from where we are to where we need to be.
I join Ms. Warren in her typically pithy rejoinder to the Joe Biden campaign:
The best way to fight misinformation is with facts.
Finally, I think this plan demonstrates how effectively the Democratic primary process is working. We started with a crowded field. Six months ago, there was little daylight between four contenders that currently lead the Democratic pack (Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren). The focus on M4A and wealth concentration is spreading these four apart and therefore making it more likely that the ultimate nominee represents what we Democrats actually believe.
The Democratic primary process is working very well.