If you like your union insurance plan, Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to take it away from you. Not only that, Warren wants unions to subsidize her “Medicare for All” proposal. Those are the details she’d rather not talk about.
For months, Warren has claimed that she would provide universal health care without a middle-class tax increase. Even Sen. Bernie Sanders acknowledges that Medicare for All would require far-reaching tax hikes, including on the middle class. Earlier this month, however, Warren unveiled her Medicare for All financing proposal, which she argues wouldn’t raise taxes on the middle class.
There are numerous policy problems with her plan. The biggest is that her estimate is around 60 percent of what the liberal Urban Institute projects universal coverage would cost. Her wealth tax is unconstitutional. A number of her assumptions, such as how much revenue increased IRS enforcement will generate, are laughably inflated.
The biggest political problem, however, is what her plan would do to union health care. For decades, many unions have prioritized gold-plated health care plans above wage increases. That has been true in Nevada. Culinary Local 226 runs the Culinary Health Fund. It provides health insurance to casino employees covered under Culinary contracts. As a result of collective bargaining, the casinos pay the Culinary union directly to manage health care. The Clark County School District does something similar. It pays the Clark County Education Association to run the Teachers Health Trust.
These unions — not insurance companies — receive hundreds of millions of dollars a year to manage health care. That’s just in Nevada. Under Warren’s plan, those dollars would be transferred from the union to the federal government. That’s because her plan would create a new health care tax on companies equal to what they’ve been spending on health insurance. Even though it would be paid by employers, that is a tax increase on low-income and middle-class workers.
Notice how this would punish unions that have traded pay raises for more expensive health care. Warren’s plan would wipe out increased health care contributions that unions spent decades bargaining for. And for what? Instead of a gold-plated health care plan, union members would have the exact same health care as everyone else.
Warren is aware of the problems her plan creates for unions. She says that employers could reduce their tax payments if they pass the savings along to union workers. That’s a mighty big gamble for unions to take. Give up your health insurance today for the chance of a raise tomorrow. There’s another problem. If the Congressional Budget Office thought that would happen, she’d be taking away the revenue she’s depending on to fund her plan.
Warren brags about her many “plans.” But her plan to win the Democrat nomination by promising to take away union health care benefits isn’t going to end well for her.
Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen to him discuss his columns each Monday at 10 a.m. with Kevin Wall on 790 Talk Now. Contact him at email@example.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.