9.17.19 / Updates

President Obama’s Former Chief Of Staff: Government-Controlled Health Insurance ‘An Untenable Position’

WASHINGTON – Ahead of last week’s Democratic presidential debate, President Obama’s former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel called Medicare for all “an untenable position,” as it would “eliminate 150 million people’s health care.”  Appearing on ABC last week, Emanuel warned Democrats about the political risks associated with embracing such a system:

The risk you said, and which is appropriate, and it measures up as, health care is the single issue that Democrats have a 35-point advantage on.  President Trump’s trying to do everything he can to narrow that down.  We have taken a position so far, and the candidates have, through the process … on basically Medicare for all, which is, we’re going to eliminate 150 million people’s health care … That is an untenable position for the general election.  As you know, George, I just biked around Lake Michigan, nearly 1,000 miles, through Michigan and Wisconsin, two really important states.  Nobody at a diner ran at me and said, take my healthcare away.  Nobody.  This is – this is reckless as it relates to – and you don’t have to take the position to win the primary.  And you’re basically literally hindering yourself for the general election.

And after Democratic candidates sparred over their calls for new government-controlled health insurance systems on last week’s debate stage, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough echoed Emanuel’s concerns and criticized Democrats for supporting a one-size-fits-all government health insurance system as a “waste of time for Democrats.” Scarborough said:

Barack Obama basically had to use every ounce of his mandate to get 50 votes to pass the Affordable Care Act … They’re just shooting themselves in the foot, turning off a lot of Americans and having them switch their TV sets – especially on the West Coast – back to ‘Wheel of Fortune.’  This is a waste of time for Democrats.

Recently, a growing number of prominent Democrats have expressed concerns over the risks – political and practical – of candidates’ embrace of these new systems.  And they’re right to be concerned.

New Kaiser Family Foundation polling released right before last week’s debate finds that “[m]ost Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (55%) say they prefer a candidate who would build on the Affordable Care Act to achieve those goals.  Fewer (40%) prefer a candidate who would replace the ACA with a Medicare-for-all plan.” 
 
And while some continue to promote the public option as a more “moderate” alternative to Medicare for all, 2020 contenders and others readily acknowledge such an approach would lead to the same one-size-fits-all government-run system, and a flash poll conducted by Forbes Tate Partners on behalf of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future reveals that voters prioritize improving our current health care system over offering a new government insurance system, often referred to as the “public option.”
 
The poll also finds that voters across party lines prefer a presidential candidate focused on making those improvements over one who wants to expand government insurance systems, and majorities “believe that negative outcomes, such as increased taxes and fewer employer-based options, are more likely to occur than positive ones if a government health care program that people could choose were put into place – and most believe it would be unlikely to improve their health care or that of their family.”

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