By Chris Woodward
Even though two Democratic presidential primary frontrunners tout their universal healthcare program as “Medicare for All,” one expert in the medical field stresses that it is not today’s Medicare for all.
“The full-blown Medicare for All being backed by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) essentially eliminates Medicare as seniors know it right now,” says Merrill Matthews, Ph.D. of the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI). “They will all be in a new plan that is not like Medicare. It’s supposed to be much more comprehensive, but it is not the Medicare that seniors know.”
Other candidates for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination have Medicare plans.
“Some of them may even call it Medicare for All, but many of those are actually sort of changes to Medicare, allowing people to buy into a Medicare plan,” Matthews continues. “Under Senator Kamala Harris’ (D-California) proposal, she would allow people to buy into Medicare Advantage plans, so there’s variations on that, but both Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders would essentially eliminate Medicare as we know it.”
One of the stated reasons from Senators Sanders and Warren for a Medicare for All system is that it would level the playing field and provide everyone the same coverage. In doing so, Sanders et al claim it would lower administrative costs and remove the headaches of choosing a health insurance plan and paying premiums or other out of pocket expenses. Still, critics say Medicare for All is not free, and taxes would go toward paying for the system. Senator Sanders acknowledged the taxes at a debate in July.
“People who have healthcare under Medicare for All would have no premiums, no deductibles no-copayments, no out of pocket expenses,” Senator Sanders said during the July debate between candidates for the Democratic Party’s presidential debate. “Yes, they will pay more in taxes, but less in health care for what they get.”