U.S. Politics

Medicare for All: Where 2020 Dems stand

Health care was always likely to weigh heavily on the race for the White House. On Monday, the prominence of that issue became even more certain.

The Trump administration’s decision this week to support the complete invalidation of the Affordable Care Act gave Democratic presidential hopefuls a new opening to pitch health care proposals of their own.

And while a handful of candidates has backed the Medicare for All plan popularized by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), many have put their own spin on the proposal or outlined different approaches entirely.

Here’s where the Democratic candidates stand on Medicare for All:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.)

Warren co-sponsored Sanders’s Medicare for All proposal in 2017. But she has said that the broader goal is “affordable health care for every American,” and that there are “different ways” to achieve that objective.

She has previously backed legislation that would allow people to buy into a Medicaid-based public option on state insurance markets.

Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.)

Booker co-sponsored Sanders’s Medicare for All legislation. But he has also rejected that private health insurance be eliminated under such a health care system and has also expressed support for a more incremental approach in which Medicare eligibility is expanded.

Booker has also signed on to legislation that would lower the Medicare eligibility age to 50, as well as a proposal to allow people to buy into a Medicaid option through state insurance marketplaces.

Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.)

Harris is among a handful of 2020 Democrats who signed on to Sanders’s Medicare for All bill and has said that she would support eliminating private health insurance altogether.

Harris has also co-sponsored proposals that would lower the age of Medicare eligibility to 50 and create a Medicaid option on state insurance markets that people currently ineligible for the program could buy into.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Sanders has long been the most vocal advocate in the Senate for a Medicare for All system and helped popularize the concept during his insurgent bid for the White House in 2016.

He said in an interview on MSNBC on Tuesday night that he would not support any Democratic legislation on health care other than his own Medicare for All proposal. Sanders also reiterated his past assertion that lawmakers should “get rid of” private insurance under such a plan.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.)

Gillibrand supports a Medicare for All proposal and co-sponsored Sanders’s 2017 legislation seeking to implement such a plan.

She’s also signed on to measures lowering the age of eligibility for Medicare to 50 and creating a public health care option through Medicaid on individual state insurance marketplaces.

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas)

O’Rourke has said he backs “universal health care.” But unlike some of his more progressive challengers, he’s thrown his support behind a different kind of proposal, dubbed Medicare for America, that would allow Americans to join a public Medicare-based plan, while preserving the option to remain on employer-based insurance.

“It responds to the fact that so many Americans have said, ‘I like my employer-based insurance. I want to keep it. I like the network I’m in. I like the doctor that I see,’ ” O’Rourke told The Texas Tribune earlier this month.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee 

Earlier this year, Inslee introduced a bill in the Washington state legislature that would create a public option health care plan, which he has said is a step to achieving “universal health care.”

During his tenure in the Washington governor’s mansion, Inslee expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and has been a proponent of former President Obama’s signature health care law.

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper

The former Colorado governor has said he supports the concept of universal health care in principle. He hasn’t backed a specific proposal for getting there, though he’s declined to get behind Medicare for All and has rebuffed the idea of doing away with private insurance.

During his tenure as Colorado governor, Hickenlooper expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii)

Gabbard co-sponsored the 2017 Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act, the legislative vehicle for Sanders’s proposal in the House, and has called for universal health care through Medicare or another public option.

Despite her support for the legislation, Gabbard has said she does not want to do away with private insurance altogether.

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Buttigieg has said he believes the country should move “in the direction” of a Medicare for All system, but that private health insurance companies shouldn’t be eliminated.

In a CNN town hall earlier this month, Buttigieg endorsed what he called “Medicare for all who want it,” in which a Medicare-type public option would be made available “and you invite people to buy into it.”

Former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro

Castro, the Housing and Urban Development secretary under former President Obama, has endorsed the concept of Medicare for All, but hasn’t backed specific legislation on the matter.

He has also said a Medicare for All system should also preserve an option for supplemental private insurance.

Andrew Yang

Yang, a former tech executive, supports moving “in the direction of a single-payer system,” either through expanding Medicare or “creating a new health care system” entirely.

Marianne Williamson

Williamson, an author and spiritual teacher, has said she supports “high-quality universal coverage for every American, including a Medicare for all model.”

But Williamson’s approach to health care goes far beyond medical coverage. It also proposes creating and funding a number of programs to improve nutritional and lifestyle education, as well as environmental initiatives.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.)

The Minnesota senator has refused to explicitly support Medicare for All, offering up a more incremental approach to health care reform that would involve creating a public, Medicaid-like option.

On Medicare for All, Klobuchar has said that it is “something we can look to for the future,” but that she wants “action now” — a nod to the likely challenges such a sweeping proposal would face.

Former Rep. John Delaney (Md.)

Delaney has said he believes in “universal health care” but doesn’t support the Medicare for All approach championed by many in the Democratic Party’s progressive wing.

Under Delaney’s proposal, Medicare would remain untouched for Americans 65 and over, while everyone else would be enrolled in a public health care plan with the option of buying separate supplemental insurance. He’s called the idea of abolishing private insurance a “crazy approach.”


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