Accuracy in Media

After the last presidential primary debate, questions abound about Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and her version of “Medicare for All.” CNN aired the debate and their moderators asked Warren to explain how she would pay for her proposed overhaul of America’s health care and health care insurance system.

Despite the questions and Warren being asked to respond with an affirmative “yes” or “no” answer, Warren dodged the questions and pivoted to her campaign’s talking points. Warren did not provide a clear answer on how she would pay for her proposals, which is when her primary opponents criticized her from hiding behind her campaign rhetoric. South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg affirmed that many Americans do not want their private insurance abolished, which he claimed would happen under Warren’s proposal. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), another primary opponent, echoed similar sentiments and called Warren’s plan a “pipe dream.”

Due to Warren’s resistance to give a specific monetary figure on how much Medicare for All would cost and how it would be funded, NBC News published an analysis to guess how Warren would fund her health care system overhaul.

NBC News discussed the topic with multiple health experts, in their own words, “who have researched the single-payer costs and financing options to weigh in on the dispute and help give a sense of what options Warren might have to finance her health care plan and how it compares to other plans.”

The analysis acknowledged that it is extremely difficult for voters “to determine whether they would come out on top in a Medicare For All plan, by how much, and what the downstream effects on the economy might be, without knowing how it’s financed.” In other words, Warren’s ambiguity cripples voters’ abilities to determine how they will be affected by Warren’s Medicare for All proposal.

NBC News, in addressing the question about potential costs, cited a University of Massachusetts professor, Robert Pollin, who estimated the cost of total federal spending under Medicare for All at about $2.9 trillion. As NBC News pointed out that based on this estimate, it “could add up to over $10 trillion over a decade.” It brought up another important detail, which is determining how much the federal government “would have to tax and spend under Medicare for All.” Meaning, who will pay for it, will it be the doctors, patients, or hospitals?

The analysis concluded that despite Warren’s refusal to acknowledge tax hikes as a way to pay for Medicare for All, “there are many ways to finance Medicare for All and it’s likely to take a number of taxes together to get the job done.”

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