Elizabeth Warren's vagueness on 'Medicare for All' isn't fooling anyone

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Overnight Energy: BLM staff face choice of relocation or resignation as agency moves | Trump says he's 'very much into climate' | EPA rule would expand limits on scientific studies Krystal Ball credits Gabbard's upswing in 2020 race to 'feckless' Democratic establishment MORE (D-Mass.), who famously “has a plan” for everything, doesn’t seem to have a concrete plan on healthcare. She unequivocally supports "Medicare for All" on the debate stage, which several centrist Democrats have disingenuously done. But her take on a single-payer health-care system isn’t quite as strong on the campaign trail.

The latest example was when Warren referred to Medicare for All as a “framework” during a recent town hall in New Hampshire. 

"Right now, what we've got in Medicare for All is a framework,” Warren said in response to a question about the transition period should the policy come into effect. “It doesn't have the details and you're right to be asking. But the most important part of your asking is to raise awareness so we get this right as we go through it," she continued.

ADVERTISEMENT

In reality, Medicare for All isn’t some vague concept at all, and it’s certainly not a “framework.” It’s a specific and detailed piece of legislation written by Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Overnight Health Care: Top health official defends contract payments to Trump allies | Vaping advocates confident Trump will turn from flavor ban | Sanders gets endorsement from nurses union Krystal Ball credits Gabbard's upswing in 2020 race to 'feckless' Democratic establishment MORE. Warren should know considering she co-sponsored it. Did she put her name on something she didn’t read and doesn’t really support? The policy goes into detail about how the transition period would work, and Warren could have mentioned that.

Following the Democratic debate in September, a reporter with CBS News asked Warren if she planned to present her own health-care proposal. Her answer was disappointing for anyone who wants a president who will actually fight for Medicare for All. She began her answer with “I support Medicare for All,” and immediately followed her statement with, “I support a lot plans. Other things that people have come up with, when they’re good plans, let’s do it.”

Warren’s webpage on health-care uses some of the arguments popularized by Bernie and supporters of Medicare for All, including the statement that “health care is a human right.” But as several progressive outlets have noted, her website fails to mention anything too specific, including whether she would eliminate private insurers, or what would happen with co-pays and deductibles.

While Bernie’s single-payer Medicare for All would cover just about everything, including mental health, dental and vision, Warren makes clear that private industry would play a role in mental health: 

Elizabeth’s Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act would hold insurers accountable for providing adequate mental health benefits and ensure Americans receive the protections they are guaranteed by law. She has also worked to hold the Department of Health and Human Services accountable for improving insurers’ compliance with mental health parity laws through an online consumer portal.

ADVERTISEMENT

Simply attempting to regulate private health care as a “fix” in America’s broken system, which is dominated by corruption and corporate interests, isn’t enough. It’s laughable to think that those regulations won’t be rolled back by corporatists in Congress later. In fact, that’s exactly what happened to Warren’s biggest accomplishment: the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As soon as Trump was in charge and Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyTrump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems, GOP dig in for public impeachment hearings Mulvaney drops plans to file lawsuit on impeachment testimony MORE had his way with the agency, it was weakened and dismantled.

Candidates shouldn’t get away with slapping the Medicare for All label on whatever they want to co-opt the popularity of Bernie’s’ plan. Voters aren’t stupid, and progressive in particular are paying close attention to each candidate’s rhetoric on the campaign trail. Labeling a non-single-payer health-care plan as Medicare for All is like slanging a pair of Adidas sneakers as if they’re the real thing. 

For those who don’t think wavering on Medicare for All is all that important, consider what her backpedaling represents. It represents dishonesty and the willingness to pretend to support policy because it’s popular with the intention to compromise and concede later. It’s become abundantly clear that there is simply one candidate who will aggressively fight for the legislation, and it’s Bernie Sanders, the man who wrote the damn bill.

Ana Kasparian is a host and executive producer of The Young Turks, and host of No Filter on TYT.