Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has called his "Medicare for All" plan "far more progressive" than the plan Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren released last week.
“The function of health care is to provide health care to all people, not to make $100 billion in profits for the insurance companies and the drug companies. So, Elizabeth Warren and I agree on that. We do disagree on how you fund it. I think the approach that (I) have, in fact, will be much more progressive in terms of protecting the financial well being of middle income families,” Sanders told ABC News.
Sanders told the news outlet that his plan would raise taxes on the middle class, but that it would lower health care costs. Warren has said her plan would not increase taxes on the middle class.
Sanders said he believes Warren's plan might have a “very negative impact” on job creation because of funds it could take from employers, called an "employer Medicare contribution."
“I think that that would probably have a very negative impact on creating those jobs, or providing wages, increased wages and benefits for those workers,” Sanders told ABC. “So I think we have a better way, which is a 7.5% payroll tax, which is far more I think progressive, because it’ll not impact employers of low wage workers but hit significantly employers of upper income people.”
Warren defended her plan, saying that employers would pay "a little bit less" than they pay under Obamacare.
"All I can say is that employers will pay the same as they’re paying currently under Obamacare. In fact, they pay a little bit less. We stabilize it at 98% of what they’re paying right now and they won’t have to have HR departments that are wrestling with insurance companies. So this is something that’s going to help employers," she told reporters, according to ABC.
After she was asked whether she thought her plan was more progressive than Sanders's plan, Warren said,"I think it's progressive when not a single person who makes less than a billion dollars has to pay one penny in additional taxes."
"That's going to be an enormous benefit for middle class families, for working families, for the working poor. Think what that's going to mean to them," the Massachusetts Democrat added. "And think what it’s going to mean for small businesses. For these little tiny businesses that right now can’t afford to offer medical care for their employees, and that means they’re at a competitive disadvantage. Because it’s hard to attract people if you don’t offer health care. Think what it means for all the people who’ve wanted to start their own businesses but they’re afraid to walk away from their health insurance. They’re afraid they won’t be able to afford it on their own."
Warren unveiled her Medicare for All plan last week, which her campaign said would cost an additional $20.5 trillion in new federal spending over ten years. ABC reported, citing analysts, that Sanders's plan could cost more than $30 trillion over 10 years.
Sanders previously defended his middle class tax hike in September, telling comedian Stephen Colbert that it would be offset by the reduction in health care costs.
He gave an example of someone paying $20,000 in "a tax called a premium for the insurance companies" now having to pay a $10,000 government tax instead.
"You’re $10,000 to the good, you would ask me where do I sign up for that?” Sanders said at the time.