Accuracy in Media

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has made “Medicare for All” a centerpiece of her presidential campaign, adopting the progressive healthcare overhaul idea from fellow candidate and Senate colleague Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Since last month’s presidential primary debate, Warren attempted to defend her proposal, which did not have a price tag or estimates at the time.

More than two weeks later, Warren’s campaign released initial estimates of the Medicare for All price tag: $20.5 trillion in spending over the next decade.

Her plan claimed it would keep public and private health spending under $52 trillion in 10 years, it would require $20.5 trillion in federal spending on health, and not require a tax hike on America’s middle-class families.

The mainstream media’s response differed from one outlet or network to the next. NBC News appeared to have fawned over the plan and claimed, “Warren backs up her revenue and cost estimates with 44 pages of analysis from experts, including former International Monetary Fund chief economist Simon Johnson, former Obama economic adviser Betsey Stevenson, Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi, and former Obama-appointed Medicare and Medicaid administrator Dr. Donald Berwick.”

NBC News apparently forgot that although one can back up one’s legislative proposals with detailed analysis from respected experts in their fields, it does not always make the argument valid or their claims 100% true. Instead, critics point to groupthink and how the details could have been cherry-picked to portray a positive outcome for the proposed plan. NBC News also erroneously claimed that Warren’s detailed proposal “should serve to quell critics” of her plan, when the plan actually validated many critics’ concerns that it is overestimating revenue, underestimating health spending, and whether it could reach any of the proposed financial targets and goals.

Politico also accepted the premise from the Warren campaign, which was that “not one penny in middle-class tax increases” will occur under her Medicare for All plan. Politico went into further detail than NBC News and reiterated that Warren’s plan could avoid middle-class taxes due to “tax hikes on the wealthy, deep cuts to military spending and payments to doctors, projected savings from a more streamlined national system, payments from employers who would no longer have to provide health care to their workers and — the heaviest lift — comprehensive immigration reform.”

However, Politico’s short summary about how the plan will offset middle-class taxes illustrated how complex Warren’s proposal is and how difficult it will be for her plan to meet all of the outlined revenue and health spending targets.

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