WASHINGTON – As 2020 presidential hopefuls continue to struggle with their embrace of Medicare for all, VICE News reports that “[former Senate Democratic Leader Harry] Reid was blunt when asked if he thought supporting Medicare for All would be problematic in the 2020 general election.  ‘Of course it would be,’ he said.  ‘How are you going to get it passed?’”  Reid added: “I think that we should focus on improving Obamacare.  We can do that — without bringing something that would be much harder to sell … Improving Obamacare: People understand that.  They would appreciate that.  It locks in many important things.”

Reid’s comments come on the heels of similar warnings by other prominent Democrats, including current Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), who cautioned that a nominee who embraces a one-size-fits-all system “may hurt the party in the general election,” as the Washington Examiner reported.  Earlier this year, President Barack Obama “warned a group of freshman House Democrats … about the costs associated with some liberal ideas popular in their ranks, encouraging members to look at price tags” in what was widely seen as “a cautionary note about Medicare-for-all,” The Washington Post reported.  And Speaker Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly made it clear she does not feel enthusiasm for scrapping our entire health care system and starting over from scratch with Medicare for all, saying: “All I want is the goal of every American having access to health care … You don’t get there by dismantling the Affordable Care Act,” and exclaiming to Rolling Stone“And by the way, how’s it gonna be paid for?” 

The Washington Post reports that “Democrats in swing districts are increasingly worried that the outspoken embrace of Medicare-for-all by Bernie Sanders and other top Democratic presidential hopefuls could hurt their chances of keeping the House in 2020,” while The New York Times reports that some Democratic governors are “anxious” and “alarmed that their party’s presidential candidates are embracing policies they see as unrealistic and politically risky.  And they are especially concerned about proposals that would eliminate private health insurance.”  The Washington Post also noted recently that by “veer[ing] left,” Democratic presidential hopefuls are “leaving behind [the party’s] successful midterm strategy.”

The first edition of Voter Vitals – the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future’s new quarterly tracking poll conducted nationwide and in 2020 battleground states – finds that “[h]ealth care will be the defining issue of the 2020 presidential election.  However, a clear majority of voters nationwide are primed to reject new government-run systems that will cost voters more to expand coverage like Medicare for All, the public option, and Medicare buy-in.  Most voters want candidates to lower costs, build on what’s working and fix what’s broken – not start over.”  This tracks closely with recent polling conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which finds that the majority of Americans, including Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, want our elected officials to build and improve upon on our current system.

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