July 23, 2019 | Updates

ICYMI: Labor Leaders Sound Warning On Medicare For All

WASHINGTON – As Democratic presidential candidates struggle to explain their support for a costly one-size-fits-all health care system, labor leaders are warning that a “Democratic nominee who supports replacing private health insurance with a government-run system would lose union voters in battleground states,” David Drucker of the Washington Examiner recently reported:

Labor leaders in heartland battlegrounds said rank-and-file members support former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which includes private plans, and are jealously protective of expansive health benefits won in tough negotiations with corporate employers … “We don’t support the ‘Medicare for all’ structure.  We certainly aren’t in support of a government-control, government-run system at the expense of those that currently have employer-provided, or union-negotiated, plans,” said Harold Schaitberger, general president of the International Association of Firefighters … Ditto, said Gary Steinbeck, an official with the AFL-CIO labor council in Mahoning and Trumbull counties in Ohio … “The members have a comfort level with private insurance, and to eliminate that would be a problem,” said Steinbeck, who spent a quarter century with United Steelworkers.  “It would definitely create a problem trying to get votes from labor folks.”

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that by “veer[ing] left,” these presidential hopefuls are “leaving behind [the party’s] successful midterm strategy.”

Last year’s midterm strategy focused on what party leaders viewed as a sensibly moderate message designed to attract centrist voters.  In that campaign, Democratic congressional candidates … blasted Republican plans to take away federal protections for preexisting conditions in private insurance.  But many of the leading Democratic presidential candidates are running on a Medicare-for-all plan that would replace private insurance entirely for most Americans and raise middle class taxes to pay for it … Democratic strategists from the 2018 campaign agree there is a danger … “I wonder if we’re solving a problem that is not there and spending the vast majority of our political capital on it,” said Obama’s former campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt, who is unaffiliated in the 2020 race.  “Expanding upon and improving Obamacare accomplishes the vast majority of goals that Democrats are looking for.”

Notably, Democratic presidential candidates acknowledge that so-called “moderate” alternatives to Medicare for all – new government insurance systems like “buy-in” and “public option” schemes – would also lead to a one-size-fits-all government-run health care system, meaning they would ultimately hit Americans with the same high costs, unaffordable tax increases, loss of consumer choice and diminished access to high-quality health care.  During the first round of presidential debates recently, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said: “The truth is, if you have a buy-in over a four or five year period, you move us to single payer more quickly,” adding that under such a system, “our step to single payer is so short.”  And Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-Ind.) emphasized that a “buy-in” or “public option” system “will be a very natural glide path to the single payer environment.”



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