Pete Buttigieg's moderate alternative to Medicare for All has a catch: People who choose not to enroll could still face bills totaling thousands of dollars, in a plan that critics say expands the individual mandate, the least popular part of Obamacare.
"Mayor Buttigieg's retroactive enrollment is just a supercharged version of the unpopular individual mandate that he's trying to obscure with misleading rhetoric," said Matt Bruenig, head of the People's Policy Project, a left-wing think tank, reports The Washington Post. "Instead of paying a $695 fine at the end of the year for being uninsured, you are hit with a bill to pay an entire year of premiums that could be ten times that amount. This will be a political nightmare."
Buttigieg's plan, critics say, might leave Americans with bills at the end of the year of more than $7,000.
Under Buttigieg's proposal, people who do not have healthcare coverage will find themselves automatically enrolled in the government plan, and then billed at the end of the year for "retroactive coverage."
His campaign says the plan will him to fill his promise of universal health coverage while not tossing out private insurance altogether. A spokeswoman denied Buttigieg has misled voters and justified charging back payments because people being charged will have had coverage over the year.
The choice, according to a statement, will not involve whether or not to have insurance, but instead where to get it.
Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., both back Medicare for All plans that would require Americans to switch to a new $30 trillion single-payer system, which has led to criticism from Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
He says his own $1.5 trillion plan is more centrist and less expensive, as it offers patients the choice between a government plan and a private one.
"You take a version of Medicare, a public plan," he said at a recent Davenport, Iowa, event. "You can stay on a [private] plan if you'd rather. Or you can come to the public plan if you want."
Buttigieg, along with former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., have released policies that would create a public option, or new government insurance plan, that would provide competition with private health insurance.
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