Last week, Senator Elizabeth Warren released the details on how she would pay for her Medicare for All Plan.
Her plan presents a double-edged sword for Democratic candidates and the supporters they want to vote for them in 2020.
While all Democrats agree that the Republican approach (embraced by Arizona’s Republican Senator and Representatives) to health care (such as it is) by supporting the getting rid of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in the courts, “junk” health insurance plans while not combatting the rising medical drug costs of prescriptions like insulin is not the way forward on this vital issue for the American People, divisions exist among the progressive (liberal) and pragmatic progressive wings (moderate) wings of the party on how to move towards universal and affordable health care from Obamacare.
The road on how to achieve Universal and Affordable Health Care either through building on Obama Care or transitioning to a Medicare for All System is a pivotal one in the 2020 Democratic Presidential Primaries.
Currently, the House of Representatives, with a Democratic Majority, has been taking steps, without much Republican support in that chamber or the Senate, to addressing health care by passing a prescription drug bill that would attack the rise in medication costs. Earlier in the year, the House passed protections for people with preexisting conditions.
However, the liberal wing of the party, led by Senator Warren, wants a more transformational change to the health care system by transitioning everyone, not in Medicare, C.H.I.P. or Medicaid from a private based health insurance delivery system to a Medicare for All System.
Warren’s proposal has met with acclaim with the liberal wing of the party and concern from the moderate contingent.
Republican’s no matter who the Democratic candidate is or what approach to health care they support is going to call that person a Socialist and their position socialistic.
Still, concerns within the Democratic Party about Senator Warren’s bold Medicare for All Proposal should make voters, especially with the more liberal base pause before blindly subscribing to it.
As Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post pointed out when examining the plan, the numbers, as they currently stand, to pay for Warren’s Medicare for All Plan do add up. At least she did not use gimmicks like Reagans team did when planning his trickle-down tax cuts in 1981. However, he also pointed out that the Warren plan’s assumptions and projections can very easily shift negatively depending on economic outcomes and actual revenue receipts.
Other renowned figures in progressive circles, to varying degrees, also cautioned against embracing the Warren Plan.
In one of his columns, Paul Krugman praised the Warren Plan but questioned whether it could realistically become law.
Ronald Brownstein, writing for The Atlantic, wondered about whether Warren’s cost projections of 20.5 trillion dollars were accurate and whether the Middle Class would avoid being taxed to finance it.
Former Chicago Mayor and Barack Obama’s first White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel called the plan in his editorial headline “a pipe dream,” saying the people will not give up their private health insurance and the votes for Medicare for All are not there, even if the Democrats get a “slim majority” in the Senate.
Steven Rattner, President Obama’s point person on the Auto Industry recovery following the Great Recession, pointed out that Warren’s plan, while paid for (unlike Republican tax plans), would cause too much disruption to the American Economy.
The Washington Post’s Catherine Rampbell echoed some of the earlier points expressed above and criticized Warren for boxing herself into Senator Sanders Medicare for All Plan.
Ezra Klein of Vox cautioned that the American Political System is not presently designed to support transforming so large a segment of the nation’s economy.
Even Saturday Night Live produced a Cold Open on November 2, 2019, with Kate McKinnon as Elizabeth Warren that illustrated what difficulties existed with her proposal.
Readers should note that not one person cited above will be voting for Donald Trump in 2020.
Polls show that support for the goal of Medicare for All is fairly high for most Americans. However, that support decreases when possible policy options like possibly giving up private insurance are added to the question.
Voters need to realize that there are multiple paths to achieving universal and affordable health care.
All will be difficult to pass because of the likely unified Republican obstruction like there was in the securing of Obamacare or the Clinton Health Care Plan in the 1990s.
Medicare for All would face the steepest odds of all the Democrats health care proposals because Democrats in purple/red states like Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin would probably not support it.
Democrats would do better to run on building on Obamacare without threatening people’s private insurance. This could be done with proposals to:
- Expand Medicare, Medicaid, and C.H.I.P. by either creating new enrollment guidelines or allowing people to buy into it as a public option.
- Use the government to negotiate drug prices for private plans like they do for the government-run health care programs.
Those ideas are more realistic and attainable than a total transformation of the health care system as Senators Warren and Sanders champion. Voters in swing states will support it. All Democrats will unify to pass it (including reconciliation in the Senate.)
It is time to win with realistic progressive proposals that can unite the country and move the nation forward.
Featured Image from New York Times