Reason Podcast

Elizabeth Warren Is Lying About Her Own Medicare Plan

Senator can't even accurately represent a plan whose numbers don't remotely add up


Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.), the Democratic presidential contender, used the following words over the weekend to defend her plan to pay for Medicare for All: "It doesn't raise taxes on anybody but billionaires….Understand this. This is no increase in taxes for anyone except billionaires….Period. Done." Non-billionaires will not pay "a penny more."

This claim is a straight-up lie, says Reason features editor and resident health care policy specialist Peter Suderman in today's Reason Roundtable podcast. Co-roundtableists Nick Gillespie, Matt Welch, and Katherine Mangu-Ward dive into the weeds of Medicare policy and politics, jump into the fray of the latest social media panicking, and leave time enough for Ed Clark references and a bit of Libertarian Party presidential news.

Audio production by Ian Keyser and Regan Taylor.

Music credits:

'Evil Plan' by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under CC BY 3.0

'ok boomer w/jedwill' by Peter Kuli

Relevant links from the show:

"The Reason Podcast Is Now 3 Great New Podcasts. Subscribe!" by Katherine Mangu-Ward

"Elizabeth Warren Wants To Pay for Medicare for All With a $9 Trillion Tax That Will Hit the Middle Class," by Peter Suderman

"Aaron Sorkin, Mark Zuckerberg Feud Over Political Ads. Here's Why Sorkin's Wrong," by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

"'We Can Fact Check Your Ass,' but Not When It Comes to Political Ads," by Nick Gillespie

"Twitter's Ban on Political Ads Will Help Incumbent Politicians Maintain Power," by Scott Shackford

"Can Big Tech Save Us From the Power of Government?" by Scott Shackford

"Former Time Editor and CEO of Constitution Center (!) Wants To Cancel First Amendment, Pass Hate Speech Laws," by Nick Gillespie



NEXT: Should Adults Be Allowed to Use Any Drug They Choose? A Soho Forum Debate

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  1. This claim is a straight-up lie, says Reason features editor and resident health care policy specialist Peter Suderman

    Could it be 1/1024th true?

  2. Any time a democrat makes a statement followed by the phrase “period.”, they are lying.

    1. Well, that and any written statement followed by a period.

  3. Is this somehow worse than the Republicans slashing taxes on the super wealthy and saying “it’ll pay for itself?” At least normal people get something useful out of this.

    1. I didn’t know 2/3 of Americans count as “super wealthy,” that’s good to hear I suppose

      But yes, not pairing it with equivalent spending cuts was a mistake

    2. “”Is this somehow worse than the Republicans slashing taxes on the super wealthy and saying “it’ll pay for itself?” “”


      Is the republicans talking about kicking two million people out of jobs to achieve their ends? Is their price tag 5.2 Trillion a year?

      “”At least normal people get something useful out of this.””

      A normal person can say, yeah, her plan sucks.

      1. They keep forgetting that they are stumbling over themselves…to fix what they fucked up under Obama. Premiums and deductibles were lower before the Dems “fixed” stuff.

        1. Frankly, the core problem with American Health care is decades of one ‘fix’ on top of another. The patient has had so many bandages slapped on that it’s impossible to say if the wound is healing, festering, gangrenous, or gone.

          I’m not biting on any ‘health care reform’ that doesn’t start by peeling away at least a few of the previous bandages.

    3. At least normal people get something useful out of this.

      Keeping your own money is not useful? Who knew?

      1. It’s not useful to the Glorious State!

    4. I’m not super wealthy – not even close, and my taxes went down – enough to be useful to me.

      Having said that, it’s true that the tax cut didn’t exactly pay for itself, but that’s because the federal government spent a lot more money than it collected in taxes. Total income tax revenues did increase – just not enough to offset he giant blob of the federal government.

      1. I built a new patio with the larger-than-expected tax refund. My upstairs neighbor – who gets to share the new patio for free – was thrilled about it, until he found out how it was funded.

        Kind of like how he thought it was treasonous when Trump fired Comey, but also thought that Comey deserved to be fired by either Obama or presumptive-president-elect Clinton for how he handled the email scandal investigation.

        Because something that is normally good is inherently bad when the other guys do it.

    5. What “normal people” get out of M4A is a medical system with long wait times, bad service, hospitals closing, and a shortage of doctors. What is “useful” about that?

  4. Heh, she’ll probably call what the middle class pays “user fees” or something.

    1. She may place a lot of it on business, but that gets passed to the consumer.

  5. Lizzie lies about a lot of things; she relies on a friendly Media to cover for her.

    That’s a great strategy for running as a Senator in Massachusetts, where Dems have a massive built-in advantage.

    It’s a recipe for disaster when running a national race for president against a bare-knuckled street fighter like Trump.

    1. She’s going to walk right into the sound bite “What else is she lying about?”

      And she’s going to have the nerve to be surprised.

      1. She is going to accuse people of misogyny every time she gets called out for her lies.

  6. How One Employer Stuck a New Mom With a $898,984 Bill for Her Premature Baby

    The expense of this shit is insane. Somebody will end up eating this shit. I’d prefer making richer people eat more of it.

    1. Shorter Pod “I don’t know how billing works”

    2. “”But Dignity’s plan, like many, requires employees to enroll newborns within 31 days through its website, or they won’t be covered — something Bard said she didn’t know at the time.””

    3. And Warren’s plan will satisfy your desire to have richer people eating more of it, so long as you define “richer people” as anyone making more than minimum wage

      1. Actually, her plan defines “richer people” as anyone with a job, as her funding is payroll based.

    4. “”I’d prefer making richer people eat more of it.””

      How about the middle class and you paying more for services and goods.

      The idea that the rich pay is what is how liberals are bullshitting themselves again with health care. Just like they thought the ACA was going to control costs.

    5. Bard’s saga began, traumatically, when she gave birth to Sadie at just 26 weeks on Sept. 21, 2018, at the University of California, Irvine Medical Center in Southern California.

      Wow, still well within abortion limits.

      1. Stop acting like she had a choice – – – – – – –

    6. What’s funny Pod should have read the article.
      The insurance company is covering it.

      “”The next day, Bard got a call from the senior vice president of operations for Dignity Southern California, who apologized and said she’d heard about the situation from the organization’s media team and would help. Two days later, Dignity added Sadie to the plan, retroactive to her birth date. It would cover the bills.””

      1. Yes, but the question is would they have covered it had there never been any high profile media attention? The article is clear to point that out, and it’s reasonable to suspect the answer would be an emphatic “no”.

        This whole case is a classic “edge scenario” where someone JUUUST over the line gets hammered by consequences of their actions– or in this case, inaction to disastrous financial results.

        The reality here is that even if Dignity had refused to retroactively cover her insurance claim, then the hospital would have likely written off a huge portion of that bill because there’s realistic way she’d have ever been able to pay it. She might still have had to declare bankruptcy though.

        It’s understandable that an insurance company would have rules about coverage limits, because if they didn’t they’d be out of business in a week. She was past the deadline to add her infant to her coverage. What if she’d been a month late, three months late, a year late, five years late? At what point do you declare “too late” to be too late.

        I do sympathize with the woman, because I know what it’s like to go through a difficult time with family involved in emergency care. Things like “paperwork” in your life take a deep back burner. Sometimes even paying bills stops for a while. But given what we know about health insurance, her fiancee, family members or even close friends should have been on the phone the next day making sure everything was covered.

        1. Its not that she “has to” declare Bankruptcy, it is that she “gets to” declare Bankruptcy. And thus walk away with a live child and no bills. I have little sympathy for anyone who would not happily take that deal.

          Interesting how sometimes bankruptcy is portrayed as a scheming dodge to get out of paying your bills, and other times as a terrible fate, a draconian consequence of predatory financial oppression. Depends on who gets stiffed, apparently.

    7. How awful!
      Under Medicare she only would have had to pay $179,706.80.
      (Medicare only pays 80% of covered expenses, with NO annual or lifetime cap on out of pocket expenses)

      So vote for Medicare for all and watch your personal expenses for medical care go through the roof!
      (or could it be the fascists are lying and really mean to nationalize the medical profession while eliminating health insurance?)

      1. Medicare for All is part of the lie. They just want to use a familiar term. Socialized government healthcare probably doesn’t poll as well.

      2. Medicare is an 80/20 plan [after deductibles, for a hospital admission is about $1200]; they adjust the bill to their usual and customary rate and the hospital cannot “balance bill” you for what they write off. You still have to pay the 20% which for 180K bill would be $36,000. Without some type of supplement [currently private insurance] you will have to pay that.

        1. Your description of traditional Medicare is pretty accurate (although there are also the “Medicare Advantage” plans, which are more like insurance company HMO plans). What Warren and Sanders are proposing won’t be like traditional Medicare – and I will admit to wondering why, since if their proposal was modeled after the Medicare you describe, it would allow for some health insurance industry participation for the (optional) supplemental plans, and would likely cost less that the fantasies offered by Warren and Sanders.

      3. Trump would be wise to label their goals more accurately.

        VA For All.

    8. There aren’t enough rich people. There are never enough rich people to pay for any proposal that is said to be paid for by taxing the rich.


    9. First, the woman (a nurse herself) got stuck with this bill because she failed to enroll her baby in her employer-provided health plan. That is, her problem is her stupidity and carelessness.

      Second, the reason her bill was so high and why “this shit costs so much” is precisely because the government “makes rich people eat more of it”. And that spirals out of control: the more you transfer costs to “rich people”, the more hospitals charge, and the more you need to transfer. Eventually, rich people just stop being rich or leave the country.

      A premature baby should cost a few tens of thousands of dollars, not close to a million. The high costs in the US are the result of unnecessary tests, unnecessary interventions, unnecessary care. Hospitals perform unnecessary procedures because they can charge for it at will and the costs get transferred to “rich people”.

  7. *gasp* The Land O Fakes Woman is LYING?!?!? Well I never!

  8. Then after the middle class gets hammered with “Medicare 4 All” taxes, they’d better brace for the “Green New Deal” taxes and the “free college for all” taxes. Democrats prefer to talk about these programs separately, but all of this is going to be coming out of the same paycheck for us hoi polloi.

    1. Indeed. While Republicans managed to let us keep more money to invest to weather their irresponsible spending Democrats are busy promising to tax everyone into the poor house to cover spending that no taxes could possibly cover.

      I know which option I would choose, because only one of those options makes any logical sense even if both are pretty bad.

  9. “doesn’t raise taxes on anybody but billionaires….Understand this. This is no increase in taxes for anyone except billionaires….Period. Done.”
    Cool. Is she prepared to put it in a contract saying “I’ll jump off the Washington Monument – he never told a lie either – if it turns out I’m wrong.”

    1. Warren will say she misspoke. Isn’t that how democrats defend their lies?

      1. Misspoke: That would be classic Hillaryness. For changing your verbiage it would be “I’ve evolved.” And if you just shit out don’t know you pull a Harris: “We need to have a conversation on that; next question?”

        1. When Bill Clinton was a governor, he would often say we need a study on that.

  10. Warren is well educated in history, never have corporations or banks taken increased taxation and passed that expense along to their employees or customers. It’s literally never happened and there’s no reason to believe it’s going to start now.

    1. *gigglesnort*

  11. I am shocked, SHOCKED, I say, to hear that the democrats are lying. Again. I thought politicians had a quota or something

  12. What’s with the weird photo of Lizzie without her mouth wide open or her lips pursed?

  13. I can’t believe you people are so cynical. I have no doubt Lizzie isn’t lying when she says she’s only going to raise taxes on billionaires. Crank up those printing presses to pay for all those free goodies and we’ll all be billionaires in just a few years. It worked in Venezuela, it can work here.

  14. For the last several months I’ve just been hearing her say, ‘Cluck, cluck’ while making that head motion that makes her look more like a pecking chicken.

    I’m late to the game, so forgive me. Is her popularity due to shitty math teachers, or that she is the perfect combination of all of the charms and sincerity of Bernie and Hillary?

  15. The federal income tax was sold as a 1% tax on the 1%.

    1. Does the phrase “bait and switch” ring a bell?

      1. Low balling?

      2. “I’ll put in only the tippy-tip; it won’t hurt at all!” – Elizabeth Warren (with a strap-on)

  16. Other than running up debt, what has the government run successfully? I’ve asked people that support shit like this a question like: Do you trust the Government to be responsible for your and your families health care? They almost always answer yes. Then I ask, what does the government run that is easy to use, low waiting times, cost effective, has successful outcomes, and isn’t a pain in the ass to use? No one can come up with an answer. I then say “so you want these people to be responsible for your health?”.

    Doesn’t help but I can hope.

    1. There’s no doubt some fluff and waste in their budgets, but our military tends to do a good job. At least, I think the rest of the world still believes we have the most powerful military force.

      1. We are spending more on our military than the rest of the world combined. For getting merely “the most powerful military force”, that is laughably inefficient.

    2. What people imagine with M4A is that they go to any doctor they want and the government will magically pay for it, with no paperwork and no hassle. That is, they imagine that M4A will work like good private insurance before the ACA destroyed it.

      In reality, of course, it would work more like filing tax returns followed by multiple audits.

  17. Nick and Katherine complaining about Jack Dorsey’s decision not to sell ads to politicians anymore plays like “Dude, waddya mean I can’t talk politics at your parties anymore?!”

    The difference between campaign finance law and a twitter ban is that twitter can police 100% of its business, whereas the government cannot police 100% of paid media advertising in the world.

  18. Well, at least I can thank Sen. Warren for my new nickname for Jeff Bezos. Amazon Creep.

  19. This woman isn’t just crazy; she is a whole new level of bat shit crazy.

  20. As loyal Americans, we should be proud to pay twice as much as the citizens of most countries for health care when our outcomes are worse than the outcomes in other countries.
    We should be happy to pay up to 10 times as much as the citizens of other countries for medicines such as insulin.
    Why? Because we’re Number One, that’ s why, and the CEO’s of our health care industries and pharmaceutical industries are the best paid in the world; Numero Uno, again!
    And we should be proud that unaffordable health care is the number one cause of personal bankruptcy in America, for it leads to creative destruction, allowing we “haves” to pick up homes, cars, and all sorts of valuables on the cheap at bankruptcy.

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