Elizabeth Warren promised Friday to spend more than $20 trillion over the next decade to provide government-funded health care to every American without raising middle class taxes — finally offering ideas about how to implement the massive “Medicare for All” program without taking a larger bite out of most Americans’ salaries.
The Massachusetts senator famously “has a plan” for everything from providing universal child care to canceling college debt, but details of how she’d pay for her health plan come with far higher political stakes. Warren spent weeks, and two straight Democratic presidential primary debates, refusing to provide a straight answer on if she’d have to increase middle class taxes to make the numbers work. Today, she released her plan.
The plan is built on transferring to the government 98% of the $8.8 trillion she estimates that employers will spend on private insurance for their employees.
Companies with fewer than 50 employees would be exempted and — in a nod to unions whose support will be key in the Democratic primary — Warren said that employers already offering health benefits reached under collective bargaining agreements will be allowed to reduce how much they send to federal coffers — provided that they pass those savings on to employees.
If the program fails to raise $8.8 trillion, Warren says she’d make up the difference by imposing a supplemental contribution requirement for big companies “with extremely high executive compensation and stock buyback rates.”
Do the economics of her plan check out? What would be the trade-offs? How would this change the nature of healthcare in the U.S.?
With files from the Associated Press.
Joe Antos, health policy expert and health economist at American Enterprise Institute, a market-oriented think tank in DC
Shana Charles, assistant professor at the Department of Public Health at California State University Fullerton; former director of Health Insurance Studies at UCLA Center for Health Policy Research