Elizabeth Warren releases plan pledging to begin Medicare for All transition within first 100 days in office

Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenAP Photo/David J. Phillip

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren released a plan on Friday to start transitioning the United States towards a universal healthcare system in her first 100 days in office - and eventually steer the nation onto "Medicare for All" by the end of her first term as president.
  • The first step would begin within her first 100 days in the White House, as she pledged to pass legislation creating a government-run insurance plan offering free coverage to all children under 18 and Americans earning less than double the federal poverty rate, or $50,000 for a family of four.
  • Under the proposal, Warren would also maintain the private health insurance system until her third year in office, when she would attempt to pass another bill fully transitioning the US onto a universal healthcare system.
  • Any legislation to substantially reform American healthcare would likely face an uphill battle and invite a partisan brawl in Congress.
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Sen. Elizabeth Warren released a plan on Friday to start transitioning the United States towards a universal healthcare system in her first 100 days in office. Her aim is to eventually steer the nation onto "Medicare for All" by the end of her first term as president.

Warren outlined her plan into two phases, the first of which would begin during her first 100 days in the White House. She pledged to pass legislation creating a government-run insurance plan offering free coverage to all children under 18, as well as Americans earning less than double the federal poverty rate - or $50,000 for a family of four.

The option would also be available to any American who wanted to buy into it - a feature similar to a public option that's been proposed by her moderate rivals such as former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. The eligibility age for Medicare would also be lowered to 50 from 65.

The second part of the plan is a promise from Warren to curb the cost of prescription drugs and insulin.

"By the end of my first 100 days, we will have opened the door for tens of millions of Americans to get high-quality Medicare for All coverage at little or no cost," Warren said in the plan.

Any legislation to substantially reform American healthcare would likely face an uphill battle and invite a partisan brawl in Congress. But Warren said she would use Senate budget reconciliation rules to move the legislation much faster, which requires only a simple majority of 51 votes instead of the 60 needed to defeat a filibuster.

Under the proposal, Warren would also maintain the private health insurance system until her third year in office, when she would attempt to pass another bill fully transitioning the US onto a universal healthcare system.

"Given the quality of the public alternatives, millions are likely to move out of private insurance as quickly as possible," Warren wrote. "No later than my third year in office, at which point the number of individuals voluntarily remaining in private insurance would likely be quite low, I will fight to pass legislation to complete the transition to the Medicare for All system defined by the Medicare for All Act by the end of my first term in office."

How Warren's plan differs from Sanders'

Her plan differs from Sanders, her main progressive rival for the Democratic nomination. The Vermont senator has already sponsored Senate legislation for universal healthcare and laid out a four-year transition period that hinges on passing his plan.

Warren, by contrast, is seeking to split the process into two and making it gradual. Experts say that could help provide affordable healthcare to more Americans even if Medicare for All gets deadlocked in a Republican-held Senate.

"What's possibly most interesting about Warren's Medicare for all transition plan is not the Medicare for all part, but the more immediate steps to shore up the ACA and create a public option," Larry Levitt, the executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said in a tweet. "That would provide cost relief to a lot of people even if Medicare for all stalls."

Earlier this month, Warren unveiled a $20.5 trillion proposal to finance Medicare for All, relying on a blend of redirected employer healthcare spending onto the federal budget ans new taxes on wealthy citizens and corporations.

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