Medicare for All

Elizabeth Warren Gives Up on Medicare for All

By planning to pass single-payer in year three of her presidency, she’s acknowledging it will never happen at all.

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Elizabeth Warren has given up on Medicare for All. 

Technically she still supports a single-payer system that would outlaw most private health insurance and charge the federal government with financing virtually all of the nation's health care. But less than a month after releasing a half-baked plan to finance single-payer, the Massachusetts Democrat released yet another plan—an implementation timeline that calls for passing full-fledged Medicare for All in year three of her presidency. 

That is not a plan to pass Medicare for All; it is an acknowledgment that it will never happen. 

Modern presidents tend to have precious little time to pass big-ticket legislation—typically just a year or two after coming into office. After that, they face midterm elections, which tend to reduce the number of congressional seats a new president's party controls, and then the long, slow slog of a re-election campaign, during which point the legislative process slows to a halt. Major bills, like Obamacare or the GOP's 2017 tax law, tend to happen at the beginning of the timeline, or not at all. 

Medicare for All, as envisioned by Elizabeth Warren and her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), is the biggest of big-ticket legislation. It's a $20 trillion plan under Warren's laughably generous assumptions and, more realistically, a $30 or $40 trillion overhaul of both American health care and government, which under Medicare for All would become essentially the same thing. The political challenges alone would make it exceptionally difficult to pass in year one of a presidency, even with both chambers of Congress controlled by a Democrat. It is all but impossible to imagine it passing in year three of a Warren presidency. 

Tellingly, Warren would use her first year to pass a public option that offers tax-funded health care to children and lower-income households, while allowing others to buy into the system. She argues that under Senate rules, it could be passed with a simple majority, avoiding the complications of the filibuster. 

This is much closer to the comparatively moderate plans offered by Warren's centrist-lane rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg—plans Warren has derided as being compromised, the sort of ideas that could only be proposed by a weak politician afraid of big structural change. Now Warren is proposing her very own compromise. 

In theory, this is a form of savvy political hair-splitting that allows her to solve a problem that has bedeviled Democratic candidates all year long: Progressives, especially Sanders supporters Warren believes she needs to win the nomination, demand a candidate who backs Medicare for All, but many moderate Democrats are wary, and single-payer could prove disastrous in the general election. Warren is trying to split the difference by supporting a starter plan that could pass without 60 votes in the Senate while still nominally paving the way for Medicare for All to follow. 

In practice, however, it signals to committed progressives that she's not serious about single-payer, and that she won't make it a priority. Sanders has already taken note, warning that "some people say we should delay that fight [for Medicare for All] for a few more years," and pledging to introduce a Medicare for All bill during week one of his presidency. 

At the same time, Warren's support of a delayed timeline for single-payer leaves her open to attacks by Democratic party moderates—not to mention Republicans—that she still supports eliminating private health insurance, not to mention an enormously expensive plan put government in charge of health care. It's an attempt to have it both ways that is likely to please no one at all.

One irony is that Warren never wanted her campaign to revolve around health care. That's why she resisted spelling out the details for months, preferring to jump on Sanders' Medicare for All bandwagon by saying she was "with Bernie." But the issue became a trap for her, as it was earlier in the year for Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.), whose numerous health care policy stumbles helped drag down her campaign.

Indeed, single-payer has become a weight on Democratic campaigns, with Democrats campaigning for 2018 House seats on Medicare for All performing 5 points worse than those who did not. No wonder Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is skeptical

Warren is clearly hoping that her bank of plans and counter-plans will be enough to muddle the issue and make it go away. As The New York Times reported over the weekend, she rarely talks about health care on the stump, and doesn't talk up single-payer legislation when asked about her priorities. 

But given how highly Democratic voters prioritize the issue, and how big a role it played in last year's midterm election, I suspect she won't be able to escape it. Elizabeth Warren may be ready to be done with health care, but health care is far from ready to be done with her.

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  1. “”Tellingly, Warren would use her first year to pass a public option that offers tax-funded health care to children and lower-income households,””

    CHIP and Medicaid?

    1. Yep; already been done

      1. She would do it again, but more so.

  2. Warren is deadly serious and if you want single payer her idea is very smart. Obamacare was supposed to have a public option. The entire point of Obamacare was to make private health plans inferior to a public option such that they died on the vine and everyone ended up on the public option making single payer inevitable.

    Warren is right that single payer will never pass. But a public option might. And if it did, it would inevitably lead to single payer.

    Warren apparently is just smarter and understands how this works better than Suderman.

    1. Correct, John. This near genius, professorial politician and canny campaigner will thread the needle of health insurance for all with no tax increases. Warm, wonderful, witty Warren will win!

      Douche-land Uber all yees!

      1. Warren’s idea is not stupid, from the perspective of actually achieving single payer. The fact that getting single payer is an evil and stupid goal doesn’t make her plan tactically any less smart.

      2. Nothing he said suggested there wouldn’t be tax increases. Just that this is a tactic for killing off the preexisting system before imposing them.

    2. “Warren is right that single payer will never pass. But a public option might. And if it did, it would inevitably lead to single payer.”

      Interesting, though, it that both for-profit and non-profit medical insurance compete quite nicely with the public-option under Australia’s system.

      1. It is possible. Indeed, a system of charity hospitals and for profit care is in principle not much different. The problem is the system has to be fair and not advantage one over the other. And any system Warren wants will not be fair. The idea would be to use the public option as a way to make destroying the private system easier. People will be more likely to accept regulation killing their private insurance if they have a public option to fall back on. Moreover, if you kill it slowly enough with regulation, they end up on the public option before they can complain enough to stop it.

        The public option is a Trojan Horse for single payer.

        1. The obsession with single payer among lefties in the US is weird. Most countries with universal health insurance don’t have that. The ones that work better certainly don’t. Do they not actually understand what it means or what?

          1. They don’t understand basic economics or logic, so why should this be any different.

        2. FYI little about the us healthcare is free market. Unfortunately the argument about best way to pay MASKS the real system which is Non-market INFLATED PRICES.

          Had to pay out of pocket for some medical service and there is NO PRICE TRANSPARENCY WHATSOEVER. Just FORGET about price shopping over the phone since few doctors will give it. After investing in four appointments and paying fees, I got four price quotes after great effort. In Germany i hear that all prices for procedures ARE POSTED PER LAW. Good luck getting such a law here passes with the MEDICAL lobby.

          And the larger issue is the tight control of physicians where many who want to perform these services are not allowed. Milton Friedman said we should get rid of licensing of physicians. Despite many Americans competing with cheap foreign workers, there is little completion in medical services they consume unless you travel overseas. Also medication monopolies and cross- deals in big pharma reduce the free market for medicines.

          It’s really the EXORBITANT PRICES from lack of competition that’s the real issue. EITHER the field is radically DEREGULATED (not saying this is the best option) OR regulations are created to COUNTERACT the power of the medical monopolies that are driving the health care system to unaffordability.

    3. Unless the public option sucks. There are a lot more variables than you acknowledge, I think.

      1. It won’t matter if the public option sucks. They will use regulation to ensure private insurance sucks more or to the extent it doesn’t no one but the rich can afford it.

    4. “…The entire point of Obamacare was to make private health plans inferior to a public option such that they died on the vine and everyone ended up on the public option making single payer inevitable…”

      They figured that the government offerings would be preferable to the private ones; ha and ha.
      Government offerings are NEVER such; the private market out-runs and under-cuts them
      Every time

    5. Trump announced this week his new regulations that are the biggest Libertarian step in healthcare in decades, or longer.

      https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/11/18/20971047/trump-health-care-transparency-executive-order-prices“>“App developers will go crazy developing shopping tools for patients, and patients will use those tools to search for the best deals,” said Larry Levitt, senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, summing up that best-case scenario. “The public availability of prices will shame high-priced hospitals into lowering their prices because they’ll be so embarrassed.”

      A much better plan than Warren’s.

      ‘This was the moment when the rise of [healthcare] began to slow and our [people] began to heal’

  3. Yeah, she’s trying to have it both ways. Both “I’m an ideologue” and “I’m a pragmatist”. Sorry, but in this climate, it seems like you have to choose one or the other.

      1. that’s just the menopause starting to set in.

        1. The A-word is more appropriate.

          1. She already has a corner on the C word; some gal from Arkansas used to have that exclusively, but then times change.

            1. The crimes they are a-changin’

  4. lol Wtf is this masturbatory fantasy you are talking about? She’s actively campaigning on it it’s her single largest issue besides raising the taxes necessary to pay for it. Jesus Christ Suderman this is like saying Trumps not serious about the wall during his candidacy because constructing it would be impossible in places or difficult. I don’t recall you being that charitable to him, as I recall this website regarded him as a singularly stupid mouth breather. Only Suderman could write an article lamenting the fact that a politician knows they are lieing about their intentions to actually pass legislation but is forced to for electoral reasons.

    1. “I recall this website regarded him as a singularly stupid mouth breather.”

      Well, yeah. Anybody who opposes the Koch / Reason open borders agenda is stupid or evil. Or both.

      1. Stupidly evil is quite the combination. Weird how it’s always the republicans who are plagued by this according to the media. Rarely do you ever see it plague the democrats as they are only afflicted by the shockingly similar but different stupidly incompetent as designated by the media.

  5. So she just lost the last dregs of her progressive base. Jimmy Dore video in 3… 2…

    1. Only Suderman could write an article that waxes poetic about how Warren has to say she’s going to pass something so incredibly damaging that it would crush the economy to satisfy her retarded base of imbeciles and parasites. Why do you progressives do you make this poor woman have to lie to you? Why?

      1. I feel like you are reading too much intent (and “wax poetic”?). Seems like it’s just the usual campaign BS you get in primaries. Promise all kinds of shit that you don’t really count on actually happening. It’s not “poor Warren”, just politics as usual.

        1. always reasonable Zeb. Cut loose for once and tell us how you really feel lol.

          1. I feel rather horrified that people openly espousing socialism are getting so much traction. What the fuck is wrong with people?

            1. She said “free”.

  6. “By planning to pass single-payer in year three of her presidency, she’s acknowledging it will never happen at all.”

    Or maybe she realizes it will take a couple years to recover from the #DrumpfRecession. And she doesn’t want to pass an ambitious new program while our economy is in a state of ruin.

    #LibertariansForWarren

  7. I don’t care if you intend to enslave me immediately, or in three years. I will not vote for you ever.

  8. “By planning to pass single-payer in year three of her presidency, she’s acknowledging it will never happen at all.”

    To the extent that her stated goals are in harmony with what she’s done and said in the past, I believe her.

    Buttigieg has been opposed to Medicare for All, and he’s leaping out ahead of Warren in Iowa.

    Warren would say anything to get elected. By planning to pass single-payer in year three of her presidency, she’s reacting to where she is in the polls and where she feels she needs to position herself in order to win.

    Because she’s a socialist and a liar doesn’t mean she’s lying about being a socialist.

    1. A socialist AND a liar? I can’t even.

    2. “Warren would say anything to get elected”

      Yes she will, but this doesn’t do much to distinguish from any other candidate.

      1. Are you looking at this from the perspective of a progressive?

        It’s less fanatical.

        More fanatical has been better to more progressives for some time. Now that’s starting to hurt her in Iowa, she’s backpedaling.

        Yes, it does distinguish her in terms of presentation, especially vis a vis Bernie Sanders.

        1. And I think it will only exacerbate the lack of trust the far, far left has for her.

      2. While there is a certain amount of truth to that, Trump has been truer to his campaign promises than almost any president in my lifetime, excepting only Eisenhower.

  9. How about you stop wasting time analyzing every Dem plan and tell us just how good a Republican one would be huh?

    Hint- they don’t even have one. Stop harping on people making something marginally better compared to ones who don’t intend to do a damn thing about it.

    1. lol. Wtf is this comment?

    2. “Stop harping on people making something ‘marginally better’ compared to ones who don’t intend to do a damn thing about it.”

      Because often times NOT doing something is far better than even “marginally” doing anything that is nothing less than a colossal fuck up.

    3. So wait, you’re complaining like a little bitch that he’s NOT telling us about something that you claim DOESN’T EXIST?

      Have I got that right?

    4. Stop harping on people making something marginally better compared to ones who don’t intend to do a damn thing about it.

      I thought ObamaCare was supposed to make everything all the way better.

      What ever happened with that?

      1. ObamaCare is better than no ObamaCare, but for some reason the people who vote in Democratic primaries want a candidate with a plan to make it better.

    5. How about you stop wasting time analyzing every Dem plan and tell us just how good a Republican one would be huh?

      Hint- they don’t even have one.

      The lack of knowledge on display here is astounding.

      If you don’t know anything about markets–and why they shouldn’t be planned–you have no standing to criticize those who do.

      It’s a really common thing among progressives, I’ve noticed, where if they don’t understand what other people are talking about, they assume the people talking must be ignorant. That’s not how the world works.

      If you don’t understand what other people are talking about, you’re the one that’s ignorant, and by this comment, it’s painfully obvious that you’ve never read the first paragraph in the first chapter of an economic textbook.

    6. That any of the proposals would make anything better is a huge and unfounded assumption.
      I don’t know if any republicans are offering these ideas, but here are a few:
      – Allow insurance purchases from other states.
      – Allow bare-bones catastrophic insurance, which is all that most people really need
      – eliminate coverage for basic stuff that people can plan for like pregnancy, regular checkups, birth control, etc.
      – Stop special tax treatment of employer provided insurance

      1. That last idea – stopping the special tax treatment of employer-provided insurance – is a big deal. Libertarians believe in the benefits of free markets, but employer-provided health insurance has muted free market forces for health care consumption since day one. It’s also regulated – and has covered workers with “pre-existing conditions” – and before the ACA, those workers, if trying to get health insurance on individual market, would have found it difficult. It’s a myth that only people with type 1 diabetes, cancer, etc. had trouble getting health insurance.

        As to the tax-code quirk for employer provided coverage – are you suggesting employees get taxed on that part of their compensation? The dependent coverage is taken out of paychecks pre-tax (along with the portion of employee coverage not entirely paid by the employer).

        Should we consider allowing individuals the same tax treatment for individual health insurance?

    7. How about you stop wasting time analyzing every Dem plan and tell us just how good a Republican one would be huh?

      I’m sorry, that was just too good to pass up. You know what wearingit? You’re right. There is no need to analyze America’s Mother-In-Laws single payer plans. I agree.

      Why? Because the Team R plan to date has been cleaning up the fucking mess made by Team D with the passage of PPACA. POTUS Trump has been merrily chopping away at the regulatory framework underpinning PPACA for a while now. And lo and behold, medical inflation is falling. What a surprise. Who would’ve thought that….by getting government out of the way, cost falls. Amazing!

      Pretty much any plan, regardless of party, that is the polar opposite of whatever Team D proposes is what I would call a good start.

    8. “We must do something. This is something” is a demand that has so many unproven assertions and question begging as to not even rise to be a bad argument.

  10. A single payer Healthcare system run by Warren is the only way we can ensure that everyone gets the Healthcare they deserve. Clingers can be put at the end of the line for care until they learn to get out of the way, or go along withtheir progressive betters.

    1. You are serving a cause here. And, fact is, you sound so much like KIRKland that he can hardly disagree with you.

      1. That’s the trouble with trying to satirize Kirkland. This just sounds like a completely straight Kirkland comment.

    2. You are sooooo much better than that Reverend Kirkland dolt. 🙂

    3. I for one have been trying to to avoid what I deserve for most of my life.

  11. “”Clingers can be put at the end of the line for care until they learn to get out of the way, or go along withtheir progressive betters.””

    Using healthcare as a punishment. Good move comrade.

      1. The sad part is that the Bernie types honestly think healthcare is a right but food isn’t.

    1. You should see America’s prisons.

  12. I am not surprised by her actions only the timeline. I had suspected this type of correction nearer the nomination as she would have to tact back to a more centrist approach. I do believe a single payer system is inevitable but that it may well take 10 years or more to get to that point. Between Medicare, Medicaid, VA, Tricare, and government employment a large portion of the population is already covered by the government. The changing economy will mean less employer provided care and more people looking to government programs. I don’t think private care will ever be eliminated by I suspect in 10 to 20 years it will be a small percentage of healthcare.

    1. She’s an Indian-Giver.

    2. Between Medicare, Medicaid, VA, Tricare, and government employment a large portion of the population is already covered by the government.

      Which is why a large portion of the population is intensely skeptical of the touted benefits of government-provided healthcare.

      1. As I have said before, most people my age are looking forward to getting onto Medicare. I think any skepticism of government health care is from people with good private health care. And that group is shrinking.

        1. I think any skepticism of government health care is from people with good private health care. And that group is shrinking.

          For me and my family it’s dealing with Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA in the course of dealing with our aging previous generation.

          You are correct that those who can directly compare private health care with government-provided healthcare overwhelmingly prefer the former, such that single-payer advocates can’t seem to shrink that private market fast enough.

        2. Well when the government has been taking 3.3% of your wages for the last 40 years you get a feeling of entitlement, even if not completely deserved.

          Then just when you are about to see some benefits, they let everyone else in line ahead of you. And it’s only a matter of time before they start trying to cut you off completely.

    3. Hey dumbfuck, Tricare is a private company paid for by the DoD for its employees (service members and they dependents). It is no different then employee based insurance. While administered by the DoD actual coverage is provided by private companies. It is ran as an HMO and you must you in service providers except in emergencies. Retirees (pro rated based upon years in service), reservist and guardsman do have to pay a premium to be covered while not on active duty. Even active duty personal and their families, and all reserve and retirees, may be denied coverage by Tricare if they go out of network without approval. They may also be liable, even in network, for costs up to 15% greater then Tricare reimbursement. There is a deductible for all but active duty and their families.

      1. My point was that the government is paying for a lot of healthcare. Many Federal and State employees get healthcare from private companies but it is the employer, the government, paying all or most of the premium. Tricare would fit into this category.

  13. “big-ticket legislation—typically just a year or two after coming into office. ”
    Perhaps, but then the Social Security Act wasn’t passed until Roosevelt’s third year in office and that Act has been remarkably durable and not subject to much reverse ratcheting. Let’s just not worry about what year something is proposed for and just oppose anything that further erodes individual liberty.

    1. The game is politics-as-sports… gotta produce content.

    2. Yeah, oppose all that stuff. But then what? It takes about a minute to oppose all freedom restricting stuff. Then we need something else to talk about.

  14. Tellingly? Pete! Use fewer words.

  15. Modern presidents tend to have precious little time to pass big-ticket legislation

    I’m just going to rant a bit and point out that presidents don’t pass legislation. Legislators do that.

    After that, they face midterm elections

    Legislators face mid-term elections. Not presidents. And it’s not the middle of the term for those legislators.

    I know this is all shorthand but it annoys me nevertheless.

    Rant over.

    1. it is right to annoy you and it is not a small point. The assumption behind Suderman’s point is that political parties only have two years to do all of the things they lied and said they wouldn’t do before they face the voters and the consequences of lying.

      That is a pretty cynical and nasty view of politics. But, not surprising coming from Suderman.

      1. Seems like it’s more an observation that the president’s party often loses some power in congress mid-term.
        Any cynical and nasty is the only reasonable view of politics.

        But what does any of that have to do with Lynch’s comment?

    2. It’s supposed to be shorthand, but people seem to take it literally too often. Too many people see the president as pretty much the whole federal government and kind of lose track of what Congress is really supposed to be doing and what it’s powers are.

  16. Americans need to fork over more Wam-pum to pay for big promises from Chief Elizabitch War’in.

  17. Warren further stated that everything she’s said on the campaign trail up until November 18 has been wrong. “I was just joking,” she said in an interview with a local newspaper. “I thought everyone understood that.”

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  19. She still does not believe in freedom of choice and wants government more involved than it already has been. Nothing new with her “nuanced” position. Same goes for the other democrats that backed off that position or dance around it. There is no freedom option with any democrat.

  20. The current system of having ALL workers pay for Medicare while only older people benefit IS RIDICULOUS.

    Need to vote for a system where EITHER ALL get Medicare or NONE GET MEDICARE

    1. We can ALL get Medicare if we raise payroll taxes high enough.

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