Study: Warren Plan Would Hike Deficit $15 Trillion, Create 'Soaring Demand' for Health Care

Sen. Elizabeth Warren / Getty Images
November 12, 2019

A think tank's assessment of Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D., Mass.) single-payer health care plan concluded that it would increase the federal deficit by $15 trillion over the next decade and lead to "soaring demand" for health care services.

In the report, Avik Roy of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity concluded that Warren's proposed tax increases, including a potentially unconstitutional wealth tax, would raise $9 trillion less than she forecasted. He also found that the elimination of patient premiums, copays, and deductibles would spike demand for health care services and, by extension, health spending.

"The Warren plan does nothing to increase the supply of health care providers to keep pace with this soaring demand," Roy wrote. "Again, those whose incomes or wealth are below the U.S. median will have the most difficulty accessing care in such an environment."

The report is yet another analysis countering Warren's rosy claims that her $20 trillion health care overhaul would not raise middle-class taxes "a penny" and would deliver "high quality coverage for everybody and dramatically lowers costs for middle class families."

In the report, Roy examined other industrialized countries which fund their government health care systems through taxes on consumption. Since Warren had promised not to raise middle-class taxes or costs to fund her plan, Roy wrote, the senator had developed a series of other tax increases that would have far harsher effects on the economy.

"The Warren plan is overly optimistic in its effectiveness at raising tax revenue without harming economic growth," Roy wrote.

Other analyses have found that Warren's pledge to not raise middle-class taxes is unrealistic. Most significantly, she would raise $8.8 trillion in revenue from employer premiums, the cost of which would likely be passed on to employees. In addition, her proposal would sharply raise corporate taxes, the costs of which would inevitably fall on consumers. Other Warren taxes aimed at investment would also negatively affect the economy, thereby harming the middle class.

Roy said in a statement that he shares Warren's goal of ensuring universal access to affordable health insurance, but he concluded her plan would make the U.S. health care system "even less sustainable than it is today."

"One can share Sen. Warren’s goals but strongly disagree with her policies," he said. "Our planAffordable Health Care for Every Generation, would expand coverage while at the same time reducing health care costs and federal deficits. It would increase economic growth and health care innovation."

Warren's campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Her proposal, released Nov. 1, came after weeks of pressure from less-liberal primary rivals who oppose eliminating private insurance.

Now, Warren faces new criticism for her claim that it will only take $20.5 trillion in new government spending to enact Medicare for All. Asked about her plan's math, former vice president Joe Biden said, "She's making it up."

Last week, 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton said she did not believe a single-payer health care bill would pass in Congress.