March 25, 2019 | Updates

As Some Democrats Push Medicare For All, “Party Leadership In Congress Is Focusing Elsewhere”

While some Members of Congress push for divisive and misguided Medicare for all-style proposals, BuzzFeed reports that “party leadership in Congress is focusing elsewhere.”

Asked about Democrats’ priorities for this Congress, a spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi listed preexisting condition protections, repairing ACA sabotage, and improving the law.  Focusing on fixing Obamacare allows Democrats to use tried-and-true messages … It is in fact Republicans who are pushing to advance [Medicare for all] in the House.  They’ve sent a letter to Energy and Commerce Committee chair Frank Pallone asking him to hold hearings on the bill.  Republicans in swing districts are cheering them on.  “I hope my friends on the other side of the aisle do try to make this their signature issue,” said Republican Rep. Will Hurd of Texas’s very swingy 23rd District … The Democrats flipped 41 House seats last year, but only seven of those new members signed on to the Medicare for All bill.  Some staffers speculate that Pelosi will want to avoid an M4A vote in the House to protect these vulnerable politicians from a politically tricky vote.

BuzzFeed’s headline puts it even more succinctly: “The Big Barrier to a Medicare For All Vote Isn’t Republicans, It’s Democrats”

In fact, a growing chorus of Democratic leaders has been speaking out against Medicare for all-style proposals in recent months.  The Washington Examiner notes that in the wake of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s frank criticisms of Medicare for all, “Democrats who aren’t on board with the plan are becoming more vocal about why.  Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., the chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told The Hill that the former bill’s estimated price tag of $32 trillion in extra government spending over a decade was “a little scary.”  Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee, also has drawn attention to the cost.”

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) “made the case against the [Medicare for all] bill both on the substance and the politics,” saying: “That legislation takes insurance away from 180 million people who get it from their employer, 80 percent of whom like it.  It takes it away from every single union that has collectively bargained for their health-care plan.  It takes it away from 20 million people that have Medicare Advantage who love Medicare Advantage.”  And in an op-ed for The Atlantic, former Obama White House Chief of Staff and House Democratic campaign chief Rahm Emanuel warned Democrats about the risks of embracing Medicare for all-style proposals.

Supporters of Medicare for all-style proposals should take note of these criticisms, abandon their one-size-fits-all approach, and focus instead on building upon the progress we’ve made and improving our current system so it works better for all Americans.


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