In an interview with former Obama staffer Tommy Vietor, Massachussetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren was asked about how she’d proceed on health care. She laid out a range of different options, rather than advocating for a single-payer system as Vermont’s Independent Senator Bernie Sanders has done:
Elizabeth Warren: It doesn’t just happen immediately, Nobody throws a light switch and says “We’re there.” It’s got its ways of how we get some people how we get some more people how we get some more people and by the way how some people never end up in it. So for example, veterans are are kept in a different system. It’s a question about how Medicaid gets brought into it. It’s a big and complex system to be able to do this. And so there are folks who think – for example one way you could layer this is you could say – you know what. How about if we say Medicare now starts at 60 and then a year from now it starts at 55 and a year from now it starts at 50 in a year from now it starts at 45. Or how about we go the other way and we say everybody 30 and under is covered by Medicare and in another year another two years everybody 35 and under is covered by Medicare. How about if we let more of the population shift to Medicare immediately by letting employers buy directly and drop private insurance and put people into Medicare. How about if we let people individually be able to buy into Medicare instead of having private insurance in fact. I’ll tell you I have a bill that I put out last year that Bernie is a co-sponsor on that says if you’re going to have any private insurance one of the the provisions we ought to put into law right now is private insurance has to at least cover what Medicare covers. So that’s what I mean by there are a lot of different paths. But we all know or at least I know where we’re aiming and that is the center of this where we’re trying to head to is that everyone has Medicare coverage and that everyone in this country has coverage at a price they can afford. And let me just add on that. How, think about what it means that Democrats are talking about. OK. Is the way to get there. Bernie said well it’s just over four years, other people say let’s do it over six years, some people say let’s build up from Medicaid instead of Medicare. Others say start with young people start with the older people. Lots of different ways. That’s the conversation Democrats were having.
There are arguments to be made for and against all of these different paths. But they don’t all necessarily lead to the same place. Buying into Medicare still makes it a consumer product, that some will be able to afford and some won’t. Under the Sanders approach, care is free at the point of service. There are arguments to be made for either negotiating strategy — having Warren propose some sort of mixed system and having Sanders propose a national health insurance model. But these are distinct approaches and it should be reported as such.