Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he doesn’t need to come up with a detailed plan right now of how much his signature “Medicare for All” health care plan would cost individual Americans.
“You’re asking me to come up with an exact detailed plan of how every American — how much you’re going to pay more in taxes, how much I’m going to pay. I don’t think I have to do that right now,” Sanders told CNBC in an interview published Tuesday.
His comments come after Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she would put out a plan in the coming weeks on how to pay for Medicare for All, which she has endorsed. Warren’s announcement came after being repeatedly pressed on how she would pay for the sweeping national health insurance plan without raising taxes on the middle class.
A recent study by the Urban Institute said federal spending on health care would increase by roughly $34 trillion under a single-payer plan similar to Medicare for All. That number is in line with earlier studies that pegged the cost at around $32 trillion.
Sanders said: “At the end of the day, we will pay for every nickel of Medicare for All, and it will save the overwhelming majority of the American people, who will no longer pay premiums.”
Sanders has not detailed how he would raise the revenue needed to pay for Medicare for All, but he included a variety of options when he released his 2016 campaign proposal and his updated bill in April. Among those listed in his most recent iteration are a 4% levy on employees, exempting the first $29,000 in income for a family of four. He also suggests imposing new taxes on employers, hiking the marginal tax rate on those making above $10 million, boosting the estate tax and establishing a wealth tax.
However, he maintains that many Americans will still come out ahead under his sweeping bill because they will no longer have to pay premiums, deductibles or co-pays.
Sanders has argued that including a potential middle-class tax within his menu of revenue options gives the most transparent accounting of how the plan will be paid for.
“We’re trying to pay for the damn thing,” Sanders said. “At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, it is my view that the wealthiest people in this country, the top 1/10th of 1% should be paying substantially more than they’re paying right now.”
Unlike Sanders, Warren has refused to state that taxes would go up for some Americans under Medicare for All. At the most recent Democratic presidential debate, Warren stuck to a response about how costs would go up for corporations and the wealthy and come down for middle class families.
Amid the renewed focus on how to pay for the massive proposal, which would raise federal health care spending by more than $3 trillion a year, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget published on Monday a preliminary list of revenue raising options. They include a 32% payroll tax, a 25% income surtax, a mandatory premium of $7,500 per capita or a more than doubling of all individual and corporate income tax rates. The committee notes that a combination of approaches could be adopted.
Just how to replace premiums, deductibles and co-pays with taxes can have major consequences for the economy, jobs and the distribution of income in the nation, said Marc Goldwein, the committee’s senior policy director. The think tank looked at how much hiking taxes on the rich would raise and determined even aggressive increases would only bring in $11 trillion over 10 years.