Warren backs eliminating private insurance for ‘Medicare for All’

Elizabeth Warren

During the first Democratic debate of 2019, Sen. Elizabeth Warren characterized commercial health plans as part of a broken medical system, taking a more vigorous line of attack than she has in the past. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren used Wednesday night’s Democratic debate to come out unequivocally for a “Medicare for All” plan that would abolish private health insurers.

The Massachusetts Democrat was one of only two candidates to raise their hand when moderator Lester Holt asked for a showing of who would be willing to get rid of private health coverage in favor of a government-run system. New York City Mayor BIll de Blasio was the other.

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She characterized commercial health plans as a central part of a broken medical system, taking a more vigorous line of attack than in the past on a subject that has become a litmus test for many progressive voters.

“Look at the business model of an insurance company,” Warren said. “It’s to bring in as many dollars as they can in premiums and to pay out as few dollars as possible for your health care. That leaves families with rising premiums, rising copays and fighting with insurance companies to try to get the health care that their doctors say that they and their children need. Medicare for All solves that problem.”

Most of the other candidates have staked out more centrist positions, such as adding a public health insurance option that could compete with private plans or allowing more people to buy into Medicare.

“I’m just simply concerned about kicking half of America off of their health insurance in four years,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who touted her support for a public option on Wednesday night.

Warren in April signed on to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) Medicare for All plan but has also stressed the importance of taking interim steps that extend cheap or free insurance options to more people.

She hedged in January when asked if there was room for private insurance companies in her vision of a transformed health system.

“Right now, there are multiple bills on the floor in the United States Senate,” she said during an interview with Bloomberg News. “I’ve signed onto Medicare for All. I’ve signed on to another one that gives an option for buying in to Medicaid. There are different ways we can get there. But the key has to be always keep the center of the bullseye in mind. And that is affordable health care for every American.”