Sen. Warren and Medicare for All

November 7, 2019

by John McClaughry

Last week Sen.  Elizabeth Warren released the details of her Medicare-for-All plan. The Wall Street Journal studied her explanation and concluded that  “she is counting on ideas for cost-savings and new revenue that are a fiscal and health-care fantasy.”

Custer had a plan, too.

She is sticking to her plan for a government takeover of American health care, including the elimination of private insurance that 170 million Americans now have. She continues to claim that this will cost “not one penny in middle-class tax increases.” Even Bernie Sanders called her out on that assertion.

She concedes that her plan will cost only “slightly” less than the $52 trillion that the U.S. is expected to spend on health care in the next 10 years. She deducts from that what the feds now spend on Medicare and Medicaid, plus $6 trillion that the states contribute to Medicaid, the state-federal children’s health program and government employee benefits.

That leaves $30 trillion to finance, but Senator Warren waves her wand and says the bill will really be $20.5 trillion. She makes the rest vanish by positing magical savings, including  “comprehensive payment reform.”

If U.S. health-care spending exceeds GDP growth, she says, “I will use available policy tools, which include global budgets, population-based budgets, and automatic rate reductions, to bring it back into line.” In a word, rationing.

The details of how she’d pay for the other $20 trillion are even more fantastical. As the Journal put it, “Sen. Warren is trying to sell an illusion and make it sound like political courage.”

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

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