Warren Says She’d Wait Until 3rd Year in Office to Implement Medicare for All

November 15, 2019 Updated: November 15, 2019

After widespread backlash to her $52 trillion, 10-year Medicare for All plan, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) now says she wouldn’t start implementing the program until at least two years had passed if she’s elected president.

Warren unveiled the plan on Nov. 1. She’s struggled when fielding questions about the massive proposal, which would see the government take over the healthcare industry, and faced criticism from a raft of fellow presidential contenders.

Warren announced on Friday that she wouldn’t implement Medicare for All right after she took office.

“By the end of my third year, I’ll fight to pass legislation to complete the transition to Medicare for All. Once millions have experienced the full benefits of a Medicare for All option and compared it to the corrupt and wasteful system we have today, the people will demand it,” she said in a statement.

Warren said she’d take executive action on healthcare in her first 100 days in office, including lowering the cost of critical drugs such as insulin and EpiPens and “crack[ing] down on corruption to rein in health insurers and drug companies.”

She’d also “bypass the filibuster and create a true Medicare for All option” in the first 100 days in office to start “the transition to Medicare for All,” she said.

Elizabeth Warren speaks during an event
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speaks during an event to introduce the “Medicare for All Act of 2017” on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 13, 2017. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

That option would be open to everyone and be free for nearly 50 percent of people in the country, including everyone under 18 and anyone with income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Meanwhile, anyone over 50 would be allowed to join the existing Medicare program.

By the end of 2024, she said, the full Medicare for All program would be in place.

It wasn’t clear whether Warren had the transition plan before the criticism of her initial plan. There was no transition mentioned in the plan she unveiled two weeks ago.

A number of other Democratic presidential contenders have criticized Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for their Medicare for All plans. Before releasing her own plan, Warren had endorsed Sanders’s proposal.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) noted that some 149 million people would lose their health insurance under the plans and be forced to use the government healthcare because that would be the only option available.

“The difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something we can actually get done,” Klobuchar told Warren during the last debate.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who just joined the race, also said he doesn’t support the Medicare for All proposals that have been made by rivals but instead supports a public option, similar to former Vice President Joe Biden.

Other contenders have put forth different proposals, such as South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who calls his plan “Medicare for All Who Want It,” leaving private insurance in the marketplace.

Buttigieg’s campaign released a statement after Warren’s Friday announcement, saying, “Senator Warren’s new health care ‘plan’ is a transparently political attempt to paper over a very serious policy problem, which is that she wants to force 150 million people off their private insurance—whether they like it or not. Despite adopting Pete’s language of ‘choice,’ her plan is still a ‘my way or the highway’ approach that would eradicate choice for millions of Americans.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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