United States election 2020: Elizabeth Warren sets out health funding plan

Monday, 04 Nov, 2019

Warren's plan came as the latest New York Times-Siena College poll released on Friday showed she is now leading in Iowa, an early voting state, and is holding a slim lead over Sanders. Joe Biden, Barack Obama's former Vice President, is one of the only if not the only remaining 2020 Democrat who still support Obamacare over Repeal and Replace.

She said her plan would mandate that employers pay the government the same amount they now contribute to private health insurance for their staff. And in a nod to unions, whose support will be key in the Democratic primary, Warren said employers already offering health benefits under collective bargaining agreements would be allowed to reduce how much they send to the federal government - provided they pass those savings on to employees.

From a health care wonk who did a lot of intensive blogging on the subject: Over at Vox, Ezra Klein calls a few pieces of Warren's estimates "optimistic", particularly her assumed savings on bundled payments and the yearly growth rate of health spending.

The Massachusetts Democrat said her plan will cover everyone and put $11 trillion back in the pockets of working-class Americans by doing away with insurance premiums, co-pays, and deductibles.

But that alone would not be enough, according to analysts.

"There are substantive questions of the workability of some of these things, especially the current employer payments that are routed into government payments, and the wealth tax", said David Hopkins, an associate professor of political science at Boston College. Employers would essentially convert the money they now spend on workers' healthcare into Medicare contributions, while billionaires, high-earning investors and corporations would see taxes go up.

With Friday's plan, however, Warren has now made it clear she's committed to the policy.

Medicare for All's chief proponent is Warren's friend and White House hopeful rival Sen. Senator Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, has admitted that he would do so but has said that costs for premiums and copays would go down, making up for that increase.

"When fully implemented, my approach to Medicare for All would mark one of the greatest federal expansions of middle class wealth in our history", stated Warren, in her plan.

An online calculator launched by Warren's campaign showed an average family of four with employer-provided insurance would save $12,378 per year. Friday's proposal attempts to explain why middle class taxes don't have to increase - even if the figures involved are staggering.

Warren had remained vague regarding the details of how she meant to pay for her "Medicare for All" plan, and whether or not a tax hike was in store for the middle class, until recently when she posted the 20-page proposal online. For example, can she really bring in $2.3 trillion over 10 years with tougher enforcement of tax laws and closing loopholes?

The Democrat would boost what had been a three percent wealth tax on people with more than a billion dollars to six percent. As part of her plan to finance Medicare for All, she has increased the rate for net worth exceeding $1 billion to 6 percent. "She'd also add a new tax on the sale of stocks, bonds, and derivatives, writing, that even a small tax of "one-tenth of one percent" would raise "$800 billion in revenue over the next ten years". In a Friday blog post spelling out her proposal, Warren said she plans to unveil her transition plan "in the weeks ahead".

Medicare for All will require $20.5 trillion in additional federal spending, which still leaves more than $30 trillion left to be covered from other sources. Still, the price tag could be far higher.

Warren proposes to use these changes to the health care system and tax rules, as well as immigration reform and cuts to defense spending, to offset the costs of Medicare for All.

Watson said "Medicare for All" could also result in lower investment and lower incomes for middle-class workers long-term.