The media’s reaction to Senator Elizabeth Warren’s health care plan reflects a troubling approach to the way it thinks we should evaluate candidates for the presidency. After the Senator released her very smart proposal, the media might have asked a number of important questions about the plan’s impact on health care access. Instead, much of the commentary has been about the tax implications of the plan.
Of course, as Senator Warren repeatedly reminds us, what really matters to people is how much they have to pay for their health care, not whether they pay through premiums, deductibles, or taxes. People want to know their total costs, and single-payer plans are less expensive than what we have now.
More importantly, there are bigger questions at stake. For example, to the candidates who prefer an Affordable Care Act expansion to Medicare-for-All reform, the media could be asking why those candidates want to maintain a Medicaid program for the poor that they wouldn’t choose for themselves. Or why they think Medicaid recipients in Massachusetts should have a better program than Medicaid recipients in Texas.
As voters assess their options for the 2020 presidential election, one key question is whether a candidate thinks everyone should play by the same rules or whether we should have different rules for the wealthier and the less fortunate. Medicare-for-All has the same health care rules for everyone. Even an enhanced Affordable Care Act would not.