Warren's 'Medicare for All' funding plan: 8 things to know

Nearly a week after promising a funding plan for her "Medicare for All" policy, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., released a 9,000-word outline Nov. 1 that gives greater insight on what her plan will cost and how she proposes paying for it. 

Eight key takeaways from the presidential candidate's plan:

1. Ms. Warren said her approach to Medicare for All would cost the country just under $52 trillion over 10 years.

2. She said the policy would require "not one penny in middle-class tax increases." Instead, she said Medicare for All would put $11 trillion back into Americans' pockets through the elimination of premiums and virtual elimination of out-of-pocket costs.

3. Ms. Warren would fund $20.5 trillion in new federal spending under Medicare for All through targeted spending cuts, including those to military spending, new taxes for the richest 1 percent of Americans, fraud crackdowns and new taxes on corporations.  

4. Ms. Warren said existing federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid will help fund Medicare for All. Existing state spending on health insurance and existing private sector employer contributions to health insurance will both continue in the form of payments to Medicare.

5. Hospitals would receive reimbursement at an average of 110 percent of current Medicare rates, with adjustments made for rural hospitals, teaching hospitals and other providers with "challenging cost structures."

6. "The increase I am proposing under 'Medicare for All' will cover hospitals' current costs of care — but hospital costs will also substantially decrease as a result of simpler administrative processes, lower prescription drug prices, the end of bad debt from uncompensated care and more patients with insurance seeking care," Ms. Warren said. 

7. Administrative costs are one target of Ms. Warren. She said that private insurers had administrative costs of 12 percent of premiums collected in 2017, compared to Medicare, which kept its administrative costs down to 2.3 percent. Under Medicare for All, she would set net administrative spending at 2.3 percent.

8. Ms. Warren cited health policy experts she tapped to review her plan and provide feedback on its feasibility and 10-year costs: Donald Berwick, MD, president emeritus and senior fellow with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and former CMS administrator under President Barack Obama; Simon Johnson, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund and a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics; and Betsey Stevenson, former chief economist for the Labor Department under President Obama.

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