The Democratic Party is at risk of falling into a trap on health care — a trap called “Medicare for All.” But at the Democrats’ October 15 debate for presidential candidates, Pete Buttigieg offered a plan that could allow a timely escape.
Buttigieg began by characterizing his plan, Medicare for All Who Want It (M4AWW), as one that “trusts you to make the right decision for your health care and for your family. Unlike the purist form of Medicare for All promoted by Warren and Bernie Sanders, Buttigieg maintained that his plan could be “delivered without an increase on the middle-class taxes.”
Warren replied, “So, let’s be clear. Whenever someone hears the term Medicare for All Who Want It, understand what that really means. It’s Medicare for all who can afford it,” clearly implying that M4AWW would leave some Americans still unable to afford the health care they need.
This attack on the Buttigieg plan misses the mark. Contrary to Warren’s claim, the approach taken by Buttigieg — and shared by several related reform proposals — would not, regardless of their income, leave out “the family whose child has been diagnosed with cancer” or “the person who’s just gotten an MS diagnosis.” It would instead protect everyone from ruinous medical bills, but do so in a way that avoids, as Buttigieg puts it, blowing a “giant multi-trillion-dollar hole” in the federal budget.
All this is easily understood by anyone who takes the time to see how Medicare for All Who Want It, and related proposals, actually work. Here are some of the plan’s key points.