Reprinted from Campaign For America's Future
As the Iowa caucuses draw near and as Bernie Sanders closes in on Hillary Clinton in the polls, Clinton has started "attacking" (media word) Sanders' proposals for providing universal health care through a Medicare-for-All plan.
The corporate media largely covers the horse-race aspect of this as an entertainment item. Here is a look at the substance of Clinton's assertions.
Medicare For All
Sanders has proposed replacing "Obamacare," the Affordable Care Act mandate to purchase insurance from private companies, with a Medicare-for-All, "single-payer," "universal heath care" plan. In other words, he proposes to extend (and expand) the current Medicare system to cover every American so they can stop having to locate and purchase private insurance policies. Sanders' plan would also end the need for other government health programs, including Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Medicare for All is very popular, especially among Democrats. The December 2015 Kaiser Health Tracking poll found that 58 percent of Americans support it (34 percent strongly), with 81 percent of Democrats and 6 in 10 independents saying they favor the idea. "This is compared to 34 percent who say they oppose it, including 25 percent who strongly oppose it," the poll said. Among Republicans, 63 percent say they oppose it.
Proposing Medicare for All is not just the right policy for the country, it is very smart politics.
Clinton claims that Sanders' plan would require a big tax hike. Politico reports this claim, in "Clinton hits Sanders on middle class tax hikes":
"'Bernie Sanders has called for a roughly 9-percent tax hike on middle-class families just to cover his health-care plan,' said Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon, referring to legislation Sanders introduced in 2013, 'and simple math dictates he'll need to tax workers even more to pay for the rest of his at least $18-20 trillion agenda. If you are truly concerned about raising incomes for middle-class families, the last thing you should do is cut their take-home pay right off the bat by raising their taxes.'"
More recently, Clinton's daughter Chelsea claimed that Sanders' Medicare-for-All plan would "dismantle Medicare" and "strip millions and millions and millions of people off their health insurance." (Clinton later stood by her daughter's statement.) The Huffington Post reported:
"Sen. Sanders wants to dismantle Obamacare, dismantle the [Children's Health Insurance Program], dismantle Medicare, and dismantle private insurance," she said, according to an account from NBC News. "I worry if we give Republicans Democratic permission to do that, we'll go back to an era -- before we had the Affordable Care Act -- that would strip millions and millions and millions of people off their health insurance."
The Clinton campaign also said that Sanders' plan would "send health insurance to the states, turning over your and my health insurance to governors" including Republican governors like Iowa's Terry Branstad. "I don't believe number one we should be starting over. We had enough of a fight to get to the Affordable Care Act. So I don't want to rip it up and start over," Clinton said.
Sanders Campaign's Response
Sanders campaign spokeswoman Ariana Jones responded:
"It is time for the United States to join the rest of the industrialized world and provide health care as a right to every man, woman, and child. A Medicare-For-All plan will save the average middle-class family $5,000 a year. Further, the Clinton campaign is wrong. Our plan will be implemented in every state in the union regardless of who is governor."