WASHINGTON – In the early Democratic caucus state of Nevada, the editorial board of the Las Vegas Review-Journal notes that many presidential candidates who declined to confirm on the debate stage recently that they would eliminate Americans’ employer-provided and other private coverage are supporters of Medicare for all legislation, which would do exactly that. They write:
Many Democrat presidential candidates support “Medicare for All.” They should offer the details before assuming it has widespread support. A recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found 68 percent of Democrats believe Americans could keep their current insurance under Medicare for All. Perhaps they should re-read the name of the program. Medicare for All is literally a plan to force everyone onto Medicare. Nearly half of Americans have employer-provided health insurance. A 2018 survey by America’s Health Insurance Plans found 71 percent are satisfied with that coverage. But private insurance would be illegal under many universal health care plans such as the one proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders. Four other Democrat presidential candidates, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, are co-sponsors. Under Sanders’ plan, you couldn’t keep your employer-based plan. You couldn’t even purchase supplemental coverage on any procedure that the government would otherwise pay for. The government would outlaw private medical transactions – meaning you could go to jail if you hired a doctor with your own money to perform a medical procedure. At the first Democrat presidential debate on Wednesday, moderator Lester Holt asked 10 candidates if they’d support abolishing private health insurance as part of implementing a government-run plan. The group included Warren and Booker. Only Warren and one other candidate signaled their support. Booker demurred, even though he’s co-sponsoring a bill that would do just that.
The Hill also makes note of the “discrepancy between those who have supported the Sanders [Medicare for all] bill on and off the debate stage,” as “[o]nly a few White House hopefuls raised their hands when asked at last week’s debates if they were willing to abolish private insurers, even though others who were on the stage have publicly backed legislation from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) which would do just that … [M]uch of the voting public isn’t ready to give up their private insurance. [Senator Kamala] Harris has waffled on the issue of private insurance for months, despite being a co-sponsor of Sanders’s legislation. But she isn’t the only candidate in this situation.”
A new poll by CNN finds that “just 21% say they favor national health insurance and that it should completely replace private health insurance. Among potential Democratic voters, just 30% feel that way.” And, in an interview with Senator Sanders, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos recently highlighted the public’s opposition to the realities of Medicare for all, pointing to polling data from the Kaiser Family Foundation: “When you talk about eliminating private health insurance, support flips, you get 58 percent opposed. It gets even worse when you tell Americans they’re going to have to pay more taxes, which you have conceded. Look at that right there, it goes to 37 percent favor, 60 percent oppose. So it appears you’re pushing something people say they don’t want.”
Notably, Democratic presidential hopefuls also acknowledged during their first round of debates 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. 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.), meanwhile, emphasized that a “buy-in” or “public option” system “will be a very natural glide path to the single payer environment.”