Elizabeth Warren Would Delay Shift to Single Payer

November 22, 2019

In a move left unchallenged in this week's Democratic presidential debate, candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) distanced herself from an immediate adoption of Medicare for All, with the release of an updated proposal that adopts a public option before completely shifting the U.S. health care system to a single-payer system.

Senator Warren's two-stage transition plan is aimed at assuaging concerns of what could happen with an abrupt upheaval of our current healthcare market:

  • The first 100 days would include passing several bills that would expand ACA coverage, create a public option with no premiums, and allow Americans over 50 to enroll in a Medicare-like program.

  • By her third year in office, Sen. Warren is promising a Medicare for All bill will be passed by Congress and signed into law.

Why the change?  Sen. Warren has long been an advocate for Medicare for All, claiming she fully supported Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) legislation.  However, the politics on the issue have since shifted.  When Sen. Warren first released her plan to pay for Medicare for All, it was hit with criticism from both the right and the left over its feasibility and its effects on the American economy.  Public polling also suggests support for Medicare for All greatly diminishes when it is explained that private insurance plans will be eliminated.

Debate downplays issue:  The fifth Democratic debate this week only briefly touched on health care, potentially demonstrating a move towards the center on the issue as the candidates appear more amenable to a more moderate plan.  Some progressives have expressed disappointment over Warren's change, arguing a policy priority in the third year of a presidency is no priority at all.