October 15, 2019 | Updates

Progressive Swing State Senator: Medicare For All A ‘Terrible Mistake’

WASHINGTON – As presidential candidates take the debate stage again, a progressive senator from the key swing state of Ohio joins a growing list of Democrats sounding alarms about Medicare for all, calling it a “terrible mistake.” 

“I think it’s a terrible mistake if the Democratic nominee would publicly support ‘Medicare for All,’” Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) told CNN.  Instead, Brown “urged candidates to focus on improving the Affordable Care Act [ACA], while protecting pre-existing conditions.”

Meanwhile, David Pepper, the state’s Democratic Party chairman, also spoke out against one-size-fits-all government-controlled health insurance systems, “arguing that Medicare for All – and ultimately abolishing private health insurance plans – could turn off many voters here,” CNN reports.  “People don’t want to be told they’re going to lose their health care or their health care plan … Whoever the candidate is, there are ways to broaden health care without having people feel like their own health care situation will be thrown upside down,” he said.

Brown and Pepper join a growing list of Democrats who have recently expressed concerns about calls for a new government-run health insurance system:

  • Appearing on CNBC, Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged her fellow Democrats to focus on building and improving upon the ACA, rather than eliminating every American’s current coverage in order to start from scratch with a one-size-fits-all Medicare for all system. Pelosi said, “I believe the path to ‘health care for all’ is a path following the lead of the Affordable Care Act … Let’s use our energy to have health care for all Americans, and that involves over 150 million families that have it through the private sector.”
  • Voicing his own concerns over the elimination of Americans’ choice and control under a one-size-fits-all system, Ohio Representative Tim Ryan (D-OH) said on CNN“Do you like what you have?  If you do, the federal government and Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and others shouldn’t be coming into your home and saying you have to get on this other alternative government program.”  Meanwhile, former top Obama administration official Gene Sperling encouraged Democrats “to focus on your end goal, which is affordable health care … Don’t get locked into my way or the highway on how to get there.”
  • Appearing on ABC, President Barack 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.”  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.
  • Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), cautioned that a nominee who embraces a one-size-fits-all system “may hurt the party in the general election,” the Washington Examiner reported.
  • 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?’”
  • Meanwhile former Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Joe Lieberman added that while “Medicare-for-all sounds good as a slogan – it will cost an enormous amount of money.  Bernie Sanders himself said everybody’s taxes, including the middle class, will go up … Don’t do something so big that it will turn against them next year.”
  • Previously, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairwoman Rep. Cheri Bustos said to The Hill  that “the $33 trillion price tag for Medicare for all is a little scary,” adding “it’s just hard to conceive how that would work,” a sentiment she later doubled down on in an interview with CNN.
  • And The Washington Examiner notes that “Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee, also has drawn attention to the cost” of Medicare for all.

Polling shows that a new government-controlled health insurance system is not only bad policy, but also bad politics:

  • national poll released recently by the Kaiser Family Foundation “probes Democrats’ views about the general approaches to expanding health coverage and lowering costs” and 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.”  A separate poll released by Kaiser in July found support for Medicare for all on the decline, as “a larger share of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents would prefer lawmakers build on the existing ACA” and “the share of Democrats who now say they ‘strongly favor’ a national Medicare-for-all plan is down” 12 percentage points in the three months since Kaiser last asked the question.
  • And Voter Vitals – a new quarterly tracking poll conducted nationwide and in 2020 battleground states – finds that a majority of Democratic voters are unwilling to pay any more in taxes for universal coverage and a supermajority of Democrats (69 percent) support building and improving on what we have today over new government insurance systems.  “A majority of Democratic, swing, and Republican voters are clear that they are not willing to pay any more in taxes for universal coverage.  They’re looking for health care policies that lower rising health care costs more than anything else,” said Phillip Morris, Partner of Locust Street Group, who conducted the survey on behalf of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future.



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