Warren’s Medicare for All: I’ll See Your $32 Trillion and Raise it to $52 Trillion | Citizens Against Government Waste
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Warren’s Medicare for All: I’ll See Your $32 Trillion and Raise it to $52 Trillion

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


Sen. Elizabeth Warner’s (D-Mass) go-to slogan for solving perceived problems has been, “I have a plan for that.”  Curiously, she had been mum about her healthcare reform ideas for some time.  Her presidential opponents have been pressuring her for months to release her Medicare for All plan and its cost.  She finally did on Friday, November 1, and it’s a whopper.

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) thought Sen. Bernie Sander’s (D-Vt.) plan was a moon shot at $32 trillion over ten years.  Warren says her healthcare plan would cost an additional $20.5 trillion in new federal spending over ten years, for a total of $52 trillion, and would cover general healthcare and long-term healthcare for everyone living in the United States.

Keep in mind that Obamacare promised much of that too, but Sen. Warren is now complaining that there are still 85 million Americans either uninsured or underinsured.  Although long-term care, called the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports, was passed as part of Obamacare, the program was canceled because Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius could not find a way to make it work financially.

Claiming her plan would cost just under $52 trillion, Warren emphasizes that there will be no tax on the middle-class to help pay for it, but she will eliminate private insurance.  She stated the “$11 trillion in household insurance and out-of-pocket expenses projected under our current system goes right back into the pockets of America’s working people.”  To make up the difference, she said there would be “targeted spending cuts, new taxes on giant corporations and the richest 1% of Americans, and by cracking down on tax evasion and fraud.”  She supported providing healthcare to all illegal aliens and her plan calls for legalizing them to help fund Medicare for All.

Her cost figures caused former-Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential deputy campaign manager to say, "The mathematical gymnastics in this plan are all geared towards hiding a simple truth from voters: it's impossible to pay for Medicare for All without middle class tax increases.”

The Biden campaign was not the only critic of the promises Warren has made and the costs.  Other presidential opponents also questioned her math.  According to a Nov. 1 The Hill article, Sen. Michael Bennett (D-Colo.) said, “Warren’s new numbers are simply not believable, and have been contradicted by experts … regardless of whether it's $21 trillion or $31 trillion, this isn't going to happen, and the American people need health care.”  Rep. John DeLaney (D-Md.) said, “I was the first person to point out the flaws of Medicare4all and I'm the only one with a real universal healthcare plan that works.”  He went on to say that Warren’s “numbers don't add up” and the "public options" Dems are pushing “don't go far enough.”

Both Bennett and Delaney have called for some form of a public option that people could buy but keep private insurance available.  However, offering a pubic option would eventually lead to a further erosion of our private healthcare system, as explained in a CAGW July WasteWatcher.

Warren says her plan will “reimburse physicians and other non-hospital providers at current Medicare rates.”  She neglects to mention that many physicians refuse to take Medicare patients, or limit the number, because of the low reimbursement rates and dealing with the federal bureaucracy.

She provides the usual litany of how other countries provide government-run health insurance and drugs at lower costs.  But she doesn’t tell you that countries with socialized health care systems use rationing, price controls, and queuing to keep expenditures down.

Thomas Kaplan of the New York Times raised doubts about Warren’s costs in a November 3, 2019 column, “Billionaires Only? Warren Errs in Saying Whom Her Health Plan Would Tax.”

He mentions her plan would include taxing all employers, by moving the money they now provide for health insurance to pay for Medicare for All instead.  In other words, a tax.  Her plan would also include taxing financial transactions, like stock trades.

Megan McArdle writes in her November 2, Washington Post column “The good news is, the math adds up, as long as you buy her assumptions.  The bad news is that Warren’s assumptions are crazier than keeping a pet rhinoceros, after which, who cares that her calculator works?  This is to actual policymaking as the plastic noodles in a ramen-bar window is to lunch.”

McArdle analyzes the math and points out the problem, which is found in many Democratic policies: taxing the rich does not solve long-term funding issues.  Says McArdle, “After adding in the ultra-millionaire’s tax and factoring in the other capital taxes Warren wants to levy — on financial transactions, on unrealized capital gains, on corporations — we’d be asking every billionaire to hand over more than two-thirds of their total wealth over a 10-year period.  If the government actually managed to collect it, their fortunes would rapidly erode — and so would tax collections.  The plan might be a good way to smash wealth, but it’s a terrible way to fund the nation’s health-care system.”  CAGW agrees with McArdle in that the plan will “never happen.”

Better solutions for our nation’s healthcare can be found in the recently released plan by the House Republican Study Committee, “A Framework for Personalized, Affordable Care,” and the Consensus Group’s American Healthcare Choices Proposal.  CAGW wrote about this plans here and here.  Both plans send power back to the states and the people, provide more choice, and strengthens the doctor and patient relationship.

 

 

updated 11/5/2019

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