By Elizabeth Warren
Medium, November 15. 2019
Every serious proposal for Medicare for All contemplates a significant transition period. Today, I’m announcing my plan to expand public health care coverage, reduce costs, and improve the quality of care for every family in America. My plan will be completed in my first term. It includes dramatic actions to lower drug prices, a Medicare for All option available to everyone that is more generous than any plan proposed by any other presidential candidate, critical health system reforms to save money and save lives, and a full transition to Medicare for All.
(Most of the report describes transitional steps including strengthening the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid, and establishing a “true Medicare for All option.”)
Completing the Transition to Medicare For All
By pursuing these changes, we will provide every person in America with the option of choosing public coverage that matches the full benefits of Medicare for All. Given the quality of the public alternatives, millions are likely to move out of private insurance as quickly as possible.
No later than my third year in office, at which point the number of individuals voluntarily remaining in private insurance would likely be quite low, I will fight to pass legislation to complete the transition to the Medicare for All system defined by the Medicare for All Act by the end of my first term in office.
Moving to this system would mean integrating everyone into a unified system with zero premiums, copays, and deductibles. Senator Sanders’s Medicare for All Act allows for supplemental private insurance to cover services that are not duplicative of the coverage in Medicare for All; for unions that seek specialized wraparound coverage and individuals with specialized needs, a private market could still exist. In addition, we can allow private employer coverage that reflects the outcome of a collective bargaining agreement to be grandfathered into the new system to ensure that these workers receive the full benefit of their bargain before moving to the new system. But the point of Medicare for All is to cut out the middleman.
I believe the next president must do everything she can within one presidential term to complete the transition to Medicare for All. My plan will reduce the financial and political power of the insurance companies — as well as their ability to frighten the American people — by implementing reforms immediately and demonstrating at each phase that true Medicare for All coverage is better than their private options. I believe this approach gives us our best chance to succeed.
Why do we need to transition to Medicare for All if a robust Medicare for All option is available to everyone? The answer is simple and blunt: cost and outcomes. Today, up to 30% of current health spending is driven by the costs of filling out different insurance forms and following different claims processes and fighting with insurance companies over what is and is not covered. I have demonstrated how a full Medicare for All system can use its leverage to wring trillions of dollars in waste out of our system while delivering smarter care — and I’ve made clear exactly how I would do it. The experience of other countries shows that this system is the cheapest and most efficient way to deliver high-quality health care. As long as duplicative private coverage exists, we will limit our ability to make health care delivery more effective and affordable — and the ability of private middlemen to abuse patients will remain.
This final legislation will put a choice before Congress — maintain a two-tiered system where private insurers can continue to profit from being the middlemen between patients and doctors, getting rich by denying care — or give everybody Medicare for All to capture the full value of trillions of dollars in savings in health care spending. I believe that the American people will demand Congress make the right choice.
By Don McCanne, M.D.
As promised, Elizabeth Warren is proposing dramatic transitional steps in improving our health care financing system, ending in the third year with a full transformation into a bona fide single-payer improved Medicare for All program. The sketchy details of the transformation are spelled out in her article, but much more important is that the end goal of a single payer model of Medicare for All is not compromised. It really can be achieved.
PNHP does not endorse any political candidate for public office.
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