John Barrasso, a U.S. senator from Wyoming and a physician, slammed Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren's "Medicare for All" plan, saying Wednesday on CNBC that patients would pay more through higher taxes for less coverage and wait longer for nonemergency treatment.
"Even Democrats are pushing the panic button on this one," said Barrasso, the third-ranking Senate Republican leader. Before going to Capitol Hill, he spent more than two decades as an orthopedic surgeon.
Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden has been highly critical of Warren's health-care proposal, which she said last Friday would cost the country "just under" the estimated $52 trillion-over-a-decade cost of the current system. The Massachusetts senator said an increase in her wealth tax plan from 3% to 6% for net worth above $1 billion would help pay for it. Her proposed 2% wealth tax on net worth over $50 million remains unchanged.
In contrast, Biden, who was Barack Obama's vice president, wants to strengthen Obamacare, with a public option, at a cost of $750 billion over a decade. Obamacare, formally called the Affordable Care Act, was signed into law by former President Obama in 2010.
During Wednesday's "Squawk Box" interview, Barrasso ripped Warren's plan as a "fantasyland" with numbers that don't add up. "It's a complete government takeover of health care," he said, adding that Americas who get insurance through their work would be forced into the public system.
Making a similar statement that Obama made about his plan that turned out not to be the case for many Americans, Barrasso said, "If you like your health insurance you get through work, you can keep," under GOP ideas being tossed around.
The Warren campaign was not immediately available to respond to CNBC's request for comment on Barrasso's remarks.
Last month, the House Republican Study Committee released a health-care plan that it said would protect Americans with "pre-existing conditions, chronic illness, and serious health issues – while reducing premiums, deductibles, and overall health care costs." President Donald Trump, in a Florida speech last month, talked about his health-care vision, saying he plans to address issues including high prescription drug prices.
Republicans and Trump, in the absence of a formal, catchall plan like the ones from Democrats, have been doing everything to cut funding to Obamacare after countless failed attempts to repeal it.