1.8.20 / Updates

2020 Hopefuls Keeping Medicare For All ‘At Arm’s Length’

WASHINGTON – As 2020 begins, it is clear that the debate over America’s health care future is very different than it was at the start of 2019.  Medicare for All – which began last year as a “litmus test” for presidential hopefuls – has become increasingly unpopular as voters learn of its unaffordable costs, higher taxes, longer wait times, lower quality of care and other negative consequences, and supporters of Medicare for All are today “reeling after seeing the Democratic health care debate shift dramatically in their direction the past few years,” POLITICO reports.

Driving this point home, The New York Times reported last week in a front-page story that a presidential candidate who spent much of 2019 campaigning on Medicare for All – Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) – now “is barely speaking of the proposal,” going so far as “to keep her own health care plan at arm’s length at a time when she has been facing significant scrutiny” regarding its costs and consequences and “proactively seeking to calm fears about her health care proposal.”

This is just the latest example in a line of candidates who once embraced Medicare for All, now trying to distance themselves from their own proposed one-size-fits-all government health insurance system.  In April of 2019, 14 Senators, including four running for president, had signed onto Senator Bernie Sanders’s (I-VT) Medicare for All bill.  “But what seemed like a bold stroke for the senators at the time would come back to haunt many of them … the health care debate this year has put the left on the defensive … The casualty list is extensive,” POLITICO reports

Poll after poll helps explain why.  As voters learn about the unaffordable costs and other negative consequences American families would face under proposed new government-controlled health insurance systems, support drops.  The same is true of so-called “moderate” alternatives to Medicare for All – namely Medicare buy-in and the public option– which would cause the same negative consequences over time as Medicare for All would produce overnight.  Recent national polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that support for the public option is declining.

In fact, the second edition of Voter Vitals – a tracking poll conducted nationwide and in 2020 battleground states by Locust Street Group for the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future – finds that “as voters learn more about new government-run health care proposals, support for them is declining with a majority of voters preferring to build on and improve what we have today rather than start over with Medicare for All or the public option.” 

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