Sanders releases his 'Medicare-for-all' plan in face of Clinton attacks

Sanders releases his 'Medicare-for-all' plan in face of Clinton attacks
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Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersClinton backs Georgia governor hopeful on eve of primary The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Frenzy over Kennedy retirement rumors | Trump challenges DOJ Bernie Sanders announces Senate reelection bid MORE's presidential campaign late Sunday released the details of a universal healthcare plan that raises taxes across the board but, according to his campaign, would save the middle class money overall.

Rival Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton backs Georgia governor hopeful on eve of primary Pressure rising on GOP after Trump–DOJ fight’s latest turn Press: Why Trump should thank FBI MORE is expected to attack Sanders’s "Medicare-for-all" plan.

Clinton’s campaign has criticized the amount of money this idea could cost, saying it would mean tax increases for the middle class, and has hit Sanders for not giveing details about how to pay for it.

Sanders is now trying to blunt those attacks by releasing details.

The plan does indeed raise taxes for the middle class (and dramatically raises them on the rich), but Sanders’s campaign argues the extra taxes are more than cancelled out by savings from no longer having to pay premiums and deductibles for private insurance.

The plan calls for people to pay a 2.2 percent healthcare premium, calculated based on income tax rules. Employers would pay a 6.2 percent payroll tax that could be passed on to workers.

An analysis the campaign released from Gerald Friedman, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, finds that despite these new taxes, a family of four making $50,000 would end up saving large amounts of money.  The average family with private employer-based coverage paid $4,955 in 2015, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The Friedman analysis finds that a family of four making $50,000 would save $5,807, despite paying $466 in the new tax.

For wealthier people, taxes would climb much higher. People making more than $250,000 would see their tax rate tick up to 37 percent. The rates steadily climb, topping off with a 52 percent rate on income over $10 million.

The plan would also raise taxes on capital gains and dividends and raise an estimated $21 billion from an estate tax on larger inheritances.

The campaign estimates the cost of the plan at $1.38 trillion per year, but contrasts that to the roughly $3 trillion that is currently spent in the U.S. on healthcare each year.

Sanders’s plan also says it will be “federally administered,” appearing to contrast with his 2013 healthcare bill that allowed the states to administer the program. Clinton has attacked that idea by arguing it would allow Republican governors to undermine the program.

If Sanders were to become president, the plan would still face extremely long odds, given that Republicans are likely to control at least the House and possibly the Senate.

Clinton’s campaign argues that Sanders’s proposal is distracting from the more practical need to focus on strengthening and defending the Affordable Care Act.

“Now is not the moment to plunge this country into a debate on healthcare,” Clinton adviser Jake Sullivan said last week.

Clinton has called for defending the Affordable Care Act and building on it, with proposals like a new $5,000 tax credit to help people pay out-of-pocket health costs.

Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon late Sunday criticized Sanders in a statement.

"After weeks of denying the legitimacy of the questions Hillary Clinton raised about flaws in the health care legislation he’s introduced 9 times over 20 years, he proposed a new plan two hours before the debate," Fallon said. "Hillary Clinton knows what it takes, and has what it takes, to protect the gains of the Affordable Care Act and secure quality, affordable health care for all Americans."

--This report was updated at 8:45 p.m.