Senator Bernie Sanders, D-VT, introduced his Medicare For All plan today that would put every American on Medicare. Sanders’ bill does not say how much the plan would cost or what taxes would be raised. The senator says those issues will be addressed in a separate bill.
Despite the unknown cost of the bill and the unknown cost of the higher taxes, Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-WI, has already embraced the plan. In an op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Tuesday, Baldwin wrote, “I always have believed that our goal must be universal health care coverage for everyone, and my support for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All legislation being introduced this week is a statement of that belief.”
Sanders’ previous Medicare For All plan cost $32 trillion over the next ten years, according to the Urban Institute.
In Vermont, Sanders’ home state, the state government abandoned a universal health care plan because it would be too costly. Despite that experience, Sanders is pushing a universal health care plan at the federal level. The one-time Socialist’s plan is getting support from many in the Democratic Party, including Baldwin, despite the potential costs and high taxes as Obamacare’s problems continue to mount.
However, while Baldwin is supporting the Sanders’ bill, it’s proving too radical for some leaders in the Democratic Party. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, said she’s focusing her effort on saving Obamacare.
“Right now, I’m protecting the Affordable Care Act,” Pelosi was reported saying by the Los Angeles Times. “None of these other things, whether it’s Bernie’s [bill], can really prevail unless we have the Affordable Care Act protected.”
Meanwhile, Senator Tim Kaine, D-VA, who was Hillary Clinton’s former running mate, told The Hill he would “rather open it up to more choices, not fewer.” And Senator Claire McCaskill, D-MO, who may be in the toughest re-election fight next November, told The Hill, “I think that particular proposal is premature.”
Republicans were sharply critical of Baldwin’s latest health care position. Kevin Nicholson, who is running for the Republican nomination for Senate, said that Baldwin’s embrace of the Sanders plan should be “alarm every Wisconsinite.”
“The costs would be astronomical and outcomes for patients would erode,” Nicholson said in a statement released Tuesday. “We know Obamacare is collapsing, but more government in our health care is exactly the wrong answer.”
Nicholson said Baldwin’s support of the Sanders plan is especially alarming “given her blatant disregard for the health of veterans” at the government-run Veterans Affairs hospital in Tomah, WI.
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The other candidate seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senator, State Senator Leah Vukmir, R-Brookfield, said, “It’s no surprise” that Baldwin supports the Sanders plan.
“Rather than working to identify the problems with our health care system, she’d rather raise taxes and throw more money at it,” Vukmir said in a statement Wednesday. “We cannot afford $1.4 trillion in new spending when our national debt is already more than $20 trillion.”
“Sen. Baldwin has been running around the state saying that ‘health care is personal.’ Well, it is personal, that’s why government-run health care is foolish,” Vukmir said. “It’s so irresponsible even Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, refuses to endorse the plan. I want health care that focuses on patients, allows for customized plans, provides choices and drives costs down through competition.”