Warren details Medicare for All payment plan with no new taxes for middle class

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren said on Friday the Medicare for All system she backs would cost the U.S. government an extra $20.5 trillion over 10 years but would not “require raising taxes one penny” on the middle class.

FILE PHOTO: Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks at a campaign town hall meeting at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire, U.S., October 30, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

Instead, she said, it would save American households $11 trillion in current out-of-pocket spending.

“Health care is a human right, and we need a system that reflects our values,” the Democratic presidential candidate wrote in a 20-page essay outlining her plan that will be published on the website Medium. “That system is Medicare for All.”

The Massachusetts senator is one of 18 Democrats vying for the party’s nomination to take on Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election. She is currently near the top of the pack in opinion polls, having closed in on former Vice President Joe Biden, the early frontrunner.

Warren, a former law professor, has become known for a bevy of detailed policy proposals, spawning the slogan, “She’s got a plan for that.”

But she has faced criticism from some Democratic rivals for not outlining precisely how she would pay for a Medicare for All plan she backs in the U.S. Senate that was introduced by fellow White House rival Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Warren acknowledged that a “key step in winning the public debate over Medicare for All will be explaining what this plan costs – and how to pay for it”, and said health insurance and drug companies would push back to protect their profits.

“Serious candidates for president should speak plainly about these issues and set out their plans for cost control – especially those who are skeptical of Medicare for All.”

Warren said she would finance the plan largely through businesses and the wealthy. Employers would essentially convert the money they currently spend on workers’ health care into Medicare contributions, while billionaires, high-earning investors and corporations would see taxes go up.

More moderate 2020 candidates such as Biden and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg have said Medicare for All would be too expensive and favor a more incremental approach.

Sanders has said taxes would be need to be raised to finance his Medicare for All system. The differences between the candidates have led to clashes in recent presidential debates.

Medicare is currently the U.S. government’s health insurance plan for individuals 65 years and older. Medicare for All would extend the program to cover all Americans, including at least 24 million who are currently uninsured, eliminating the need for private health insurance.

Warren said that with her Medicare for All plan in place, projected total healthcare costs in the United States over 10 years would be just under $52 trillion – slightly less than maintaining the current system.

Reporting by Amanda Becker and Joseph Ax; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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