Billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer on Thursday urged 2020 rival Bernie Sanders to release new details about the cost of his Medicare-for-all proposal.
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"His refusal to tell us how he will pay for his plan adds unnecessary financial risk to achieving health care as a right for every person,” Steyer said in a campaign email. “I’m calling on Bernie today to finally disclose the actual price tag, and tell the American people exactly how he will pay for it.”
The two are currently competing to become the Democratic nominee who will face-off against President Trump in November.
“While Sen. Warren made a good-faith attempt to outline how she would pay for her Medicare-for-All plan, Sen. Sanders has steadfastly refused to tell voters how he would pay for his plan,” Steyer’s campaign said.
During a January interview with CBS News, Sanders, a self-avowed democratic socialist, said it was impossible to know the precise cost of the sweeping plan to replace the country’s health-care system.
“You don't know. Nobody knows. This is impossible to predict,” he said.
Sanders pointed out that the U.S. already spends significantly more per person on health care than other developed countries.
According to a 2019 report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the U.S. health care system is the most expensive in the world, and its cost far surpasses that of other high-income nations. America spends about $1 trillion more than Switzerland, the second-most expensive system — meaning U.S. households spend roughly $8,000 more than their Swiss counterparts.
“Do you know exactly what health care costs will be, one minute, in the next 10 years if we do nothing?” Sanders said. “It will be a lot more expensive than a Medicare-for-all single-payer system.”
Sanders’ proposal would eliminate premiums, deductibles and copays for all Americans and would cover vision, dental, hearing aids and some long-term care. It would also eliminate private insurance companies.
Out-of-pocket spending would vary person-to-person, depending on the person’s income. In June, Sanders admitted that taxes would likely rise on the middle-class, but noted most Americans would come out ahead, a result of the universal coverage. For some high-income Americans, the savings may not exceed the tax increases. For instance, a family that currently pays $20,000 for private insurance would no longer have to pay that cost in premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, he said. Instead, their taxes would increase by roughly $10,000.
Steyer has unveiled a more centrist alternative to Sanders’ Medicare-for-all proposal: He promises to expand health care via increased Affordable Care Act funding and a public option. It would cost $1.5 trillion over the next decade.
Steyer, who founded investment company Farallon Capital Management in 1986 and sold it in 2012, is campaigning heavily on addressing climate change.