Warren Envisions Slow Rollout of Medicare for All

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks with supporters after filing to have her name listed on the New Hampshire primary ballot on Wednesday in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

(CN) – About two weeks after announcing her plan to provide Medicare for All without raising middle-class taxes, Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren explained Friday how she intends to launch that new health care system.

Warren promises that during her first 100 days in office she’ll lower drug costs and implement an option to join Medicare for All as part of a years-long transition into the plan, a period that she notes were all required by Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. 

Coverage under the option would be free for children under 18 and families who make about $51,000 or less a year, Warren said. Everyone else would pay a “modest” amount and eventually nothing, she added.
The option would allow Warren to tout her new program without pushing the full weight of it through Congress right away. She says she’d tackle legislation in Year 3 of the option. 

“By this point, the American people will have experienced the full benefits of a true Medicare for All option, and they can see for themselves how that experience stacks up against high-priced care that requires them to fight tooth-and-nail against their insurance company,” Warren’s announcement states. 

Warren promised she will also ensure that the NIH gets $100 billion for new research over the next decade and that she will use anti-corruption reforms to limit the influence of powerful health care lobbyists on Washington. 

She noted that those lobbyists are already attacking her fellow Democratic candidates, who have released health care reform plans of their own.

“Let’s not kid ourselves: every Democratic plan for expanding public health care coverage is a challenge to these industries’ bottom lines – and every one of these plans is already being drowned in money to make sure it never happens,” she wrote. “Any candidate who believes more modest reforms will avoid the wrath of industry is not paying attention.”

During the transition period, Warren wrote, she’d flex her governmental authority to bypass pharmaceutical patents and require relicensing of others, while helping the government publicly manufacture its own generic drugs. 

Warren would especially focus on lowering costs of insulin; antibiotics; the anti-inflammatory drug Humira; Hepatitis C treatment; a prophylactic that reduces the risk of HIV; epinephrine, which reverses severe allergic reactions; and Naloxone, which can reverse opioid overdoses. She would hold health plans accountable for mental health treatment as well as physical health, she added, and protect people with pre-existing conditions. 

“Medicare for All is the best way to cover every person in America at the lowest possible cost because it eliminates profiteering from our health care and leverages the power of the federal government to rein in spending,” Warren wrote.

A Warren administration would roll back Trump policies such as restricting reproductive health care and allowing providers to discriminate against LGBTQ people, she said. 

She’d also enforce antitrust laws at hospitals and health systems whose mergers hurt a competitive market, and she would create a commission of health care workers and unions to help protect their rights during the transition.

“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,” Warren wrote.

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