WaPo Editorial: 'Fantastically Generous' Medicare for All Plans Are 'Fiction'

Elizabeth Warren
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November 7, 2019

The Washington Post editorial board on Thursday launched a broadside against presidential candidates Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) for Medicare for All proposals that are "too good to be true."

The editorial began by granting the potential benefits of a single payer health care before critiquing the proposals of Sanders and Warren, saying their "fantastically generous benefits" are "fiction."

"The two presidential candidates promise far more generous benefits than other countries offer. They pretend that the United States wouldn’t have to make any of the trade-offs other nations have had to make," the board said. "They promise fantastically generous benefits, no premiums, co-payments or other cost-sharing, and a miraculously low price tag. It’s fiction."

The board blasted Warren for releasing a financial framework for her plan that the Federal Treasury would not be able to pay for.

"Ms. Warren gets there by making some extremely dubious assumptions. First, she claims she can drop the price of prescription drugs deeply below what Medicare currently pays — and even below brand-name prices in Canada," the board said. "Even if this were politically possible, it would raise huge questions about defunding the research, testing and diffusion of new therapies."

"Second, she declares that she could restrain the growth in health-care costs to a pace policymakers neither here nor abroad would be able to achieve. The United States is no longer an outlier among industrialized nations on health-care cost inflation. But it would be exceptional if it managed to restrain prices the way Ms. Warren suggests she could," the board continued.

The board then expressed concerns about the economic consequences of the taxes Warren is proposing to pay for the health care plan she estimates to cost $20.5 trillion. It cited former treasury secretary Larry Summers, who served in the Obama administration. He said Warren's plan risks causing a stock market crash and a recession while hurting wealthy Americans.

"All Americans should have decent health-care coverage. They should also have good schools, good roads and world-class universities," the board concluded. "Nations with single-payer plans have had to make real-world compromises among these various needs. If the Warren and Sanders plans sound too good to be true, it’s for a reason."

The Post's editorial board is not alone in their assessment. The Dallas Morning News editorial board called Warren's plan a "fiscal nightmare" and said it would "drive the national debt to unforgivable levels."

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden slammed Warren last week when he was asked about the cost estimate of Warren's proposal being approximately $20 trillion.

"She's making it up," Biden said. "She's making it up. Look, nobody thinks it's $20 trillion. It's between $30 and 40 trillion dollars. Every major independent study that's gone out there— that's taken a look at this, there's no way—even Bernie, who talks about the need to raise middle class taxes—he can't even meet the cost of it."

Biden is not the only leading Democrat who is skeptical of Medicare for All. On Friday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said she is "not a big fan of Medicare for All."