Warren promises gradual move toward 'Medicare for All' in first 100 days

Warren promises gradual move toward 'Medicare for All' in first 100 days
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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Buttigieg releases list of campaign bundlers Krystal Ball rips Warren's 'passive-aggressive' swipes at rivals MORE (D-Mass.) plans to use a fast track maneuver to pass legislation to dramatically increase health insurance coverage during her first 100 days as president. 

Warren on Friday proposed a series of steps she said would gradually move the country towards "Medicare for All" over the course of three years.

Warren would expand ObamaCare coverage, and create a public health insurance option for low-income families, children under 18, with free or reduced premiums for those who make too much to qualify for free care. 

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The initial step would involve passing legislation to dramatically increase the availability of government-run insurance. 

Her plan would provide free coverage for all children under 18, as well as for anyone earning less than twice the federal poverty level, which is $51,000 for a family of four.

Warren's plan for her first 100 days is designed to build gradual support for Medicare for All. It presents a somewhat moderate proposal at first that is similar to plans championed by her more centrist rivals, including Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Media organization fights Trump administration over Ukraine documents FOIA Buttigieg releases list of campaign bundlers MORE and Peter Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

Biden and Buttigieg oppose the version of Medicare for All championed by Warren and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Buttigieg releases list of campaign bundlers Reject National Defense Authorization Act, save Yemen instead MORE (I-Vt.). Biden has been running on shoring up ObamaCare, and has proposed a health plan that would build on ObamaCare by increasing its subsidies to make the law more affordable. 

Buttigieg calls his plan “Medicare for all who want it,” and has said it would be a “glide path” to Medicare for All. Both Buttigieg and Biden proposed a public option.

Warren hit back at other public option ideas, without mentioning other candidates by name. In a Medium post announcing her plan, Warren said other proposals lack the necessary funding to be successful, and only “create the illusion of choice, when in reality they offer tens of millions of Americans the decision between unaffordable private insurance and unaffordable public insurance.”

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Warren’s plan could also blunt criticisms from the GOP that she wants to immediately do away with ObamaCare, and rip away people’s private health insurance.

While the final version of Medicare for All will eliminate private insurance coverage, the first stage will preserve it, while still giving people the option of joining an expanded Medicare-type plan.

After three years, Warren argued, people will be able to see the full benefits of her Medicare for All system.

“By this point, the American people will have experienced the full benefits of a true Medicare for All option, and they can see for themselves how that experience stacks up against high-priced care that requires them to fight tooth-and-nail against their insurance company,” Warren wrote.

Warren’s plan is ambitious, and requires Democrats to take control of the Senate. She said her plan involves using the Senate's fast-track reconciliation procedure, which only requires 51 votes rather than the usual 60. 

"I'm not going to give Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSherrod Brown backs new North American trade deal: 'This will be the first trade agreement I've ever voted for' McConnell: Bevin pardons 'completely inappropriate' House panel to hold hearing, vote on Trump's new NAFTA proposal MORE or the Republicans a veto over my entire health care agenda," Warren said, referring to the current Senate majority leader from Kentucky.

But reconciliation is not without risks. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Trump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Seven years after Sandy Hook, the politics of guns has changed MORE promised to use reconciliation to repeal ObamaCare within his first 100 days in office. The process dragged on well beyond that time and ultimately failed.

Warren could also take heat from progressives upset with a three-year transition. Many want Medicare for All to be a priority from the start.  

The initial fight to pass Warren’s public option would likely be bruising, and lawmakers may not have the appetite for two major health care fights in the same term. ObamaCare was intended to have a public option, but it was stripped out late after intense opposition from moderate Democrats and industry groups.

Still, Warren said her proposal would also blunt the worst of the health care industry’s attacks. In her first 100 days, Warren said she plans to establish a tax on companies that spend more than $500,000 per year on lobbying. She would also ban lobbyists from donating to or fundraising for political campaigns. 

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“Let’s not kid ourselves: every Democratic plan for expanding public health care coverage is a challenge to these industries’ bottom lines – and every one of these plans is already being drowned in money to make sure it never happens,” Warren wrote. “Any candidate who believes more modest reforms will avoid the wrath of industry is not paying attention. 

Warren's rivals were quick to criticize the plan on Friday.

“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," said Lis Smith, communications adviser to the Buttgieg campaign. "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."

"Her latest Friday news dump on this subject doesn't change the reality that Medicare for All will deny Americans the right to choose their insurance by eliminating employer-sponsored insurance, punish employers and states who have done right by their employees by providing robust health care plans and raising taxes for working people in this country," said Kate Bedingfield, Biden communications director, in a statement.

Updated at 3:19 p.m.