News Release

Distortions About Medicare for All

Norman Solomon recently wrote the piece “Why the Buttigieg Campaign Tried to Have Me Arrested for Handing Out These Medicare for All Fliers.”

DAVID HIMMELSTEIN, M.D., himmelhandler at comcast.net
Himmelstein is a distinguished professor of public health at the City University of New York at Hunter College. He said today: “There are distortions on many fronts regarding Medicare for All.”

He noted NPR recently reported on Pete Buttigieg “pushing back against [Bernie] Sanders’ more extreme positions, like mandatory ‘Medicare for All’ with his own voluntary Medicare buy-in for those who want it.”

Said Himmelstein: “NPR reports this as if Medicare (for seniors) isn’t currently mandatory, which it is.

“Buttigieg’s Medicare buy-in would merely permit those who lack insurance but have plenty of money to buy into Medicare by paying a high premium. Buttigieg’s plan is Medicare for those who can afford it. It leaves out people who need insurance but don’t have the thousands of dollars to pay the premium. It leaves out the millions of people who have skimpy insurance but that’s all their employer is offering. Under Buttigieig’s plan, private insurers would continue to push high cost patients onto Medicare. Medicare would become an expensive high risk pool that absorbs all the losses while private insurers get all the profits. There’s no chance that Buttigieg’s plan would get us to universal health coverage.

“Many media reports around Elizabeth Warren’s plan cited an Urban Institute report about how the plan would allegedly raise healthcare costs, but that study is a unique outlier among the 19 cost estimates of Medicare for All — almost all the rest projected that Medicare for All would save money, and none predicted costs nearly as high as the Urban Institute.

“Some media and candidates claim that people love their private insurance plans, which is simply laughable. Surveys actually show most people don’t trust insurance companies to place enrollees’ health needs above their profits. People are much more satisfied with Medicare. And surveys find that whatever positive feelings voters might have toward a ‘choice’ of private insurance plans, that evaporates when people are told that under Medicare for All, they would get a choice of doctor and hospital. Medicare for All widens choice, it doesn’t narrow it.”

Himmelstein co-wrote the piece “The ‘Public Option’ on Health Care Is a Poison Pill.”