October 31, 2019 | Updates

The Wall Street Journal: Lawmakers Concerned About Consequences Of Medicare For All

WASHINGTON – As some presidential candidates push for an unaffordable new government-controlled health insurance system, “some Democratic lawmakers key to holding the House majority worry that the health-care pledges … could hurt their re-election chances,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

… Democrats won back the House in the 2018 midterm elections with a message focused on saving Obamacare … House Democrats and candidates fighting to win competitive seats say health care is the top concern of voters, but that a Democratic presidential nominee who backs Medicare for All could create headaches.

… Kristen Hawn, a strategist who works with moderate Democrats, said candidates in competitive districts could lose if the health-care conversation is focused on Medicare for All.  “Making this election about whether you support Medicare for All is very damaging up and down the ballot,” said Ms. Hawn.  She said …  the centrists and independents that moderate Democrats rely on to win re-election aren’t ready to eliminate private health insurance.

… The majority of Democrats who won GOP-held seats last year haven’t signed on to the Medicare-for-All legislation in the House.  Rep. Ben McAdams, a Utah Democrat who won a GOP-held seat last year, says the policy“would maybe cause more challenges than it solves.”  Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria, who beat a GOP incumbent last year, said she recently voiced her opposition for Medicare for All in a town hall meeting in her coastal Virginia district.  She received a standing ovation.

In a story headlined “Why 2020 Democrats are backing off Medicare-for-all, in four charts,” The Washington Post explains that “[p]olls show why they’re doing this.  On the surface, the idea sounds as if it would appeal to voters.”  But when voters are made aware of the many negative consequences of such a system, including the elimination of private insurance and need for higher taxes, support drops.  

Today’s story comes on the heels of previous reporting that lays bare the political risks of embracing a one-size-fits-all system:

  • The Washington Post also 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.”
  • The Hill reports that “[c]entrist Democrats who helped their party win back the House majority with victories in key swing districts last fall are sounding the alarm that the liberal push for ‘Medicare for all’ could haunt them as they try to defend their seats and keep control of the House.”
  • [A] majority of those [Democratic Members] who flipped their seats from red to blue focused on strengthening the 2010 health care law and protecting coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions,” Roll Call reports, noting the significant “risks for any politician that proposes dramatic change and uncertainty in a system that is central to Americans’ well-being.”
  • “None of the people that were able to win in tough districts in 2018 ran on Medicare-for-all, and the reason is that they can’t,” Matt Bennett of the centrist Democratic group Third Way explains to CNN.  “People in those districts don’t support it.”
  • As one Democratic strategist put it to The New York Times“Most of the freshmen who helped take back the House got elected on: ‘We’re going to protect your health insurance even if you have a pre-existing condition,’ not ‘We’re going to take this whole system and throw it out the window.’”
  • The Washington Post reports that by “veer[ing] left,” Democratic presidential hopefuls are “leaving behind [the party’s] successful midterm strategy.”
  • And 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 … Noting that many voters were already uneasy about losing their coverage, [Michigan Governor Gretchen] Whitmer said, ‘I don’t think feeding into that is a good idea.’”



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