Good Friday afternoon, and welcome to the Weekly Scan.  Here are some of the key stories you may have missed in the debate on America’s health care future:

It was a tough week for supporters of Medicare for all, as the first round of Democratic presidential debates highlighted the serious risks – both practical and political – associated with a one-size-fits-all government-run system.

On Thursday night, Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) reminded fellow 2020 contender Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that the push for state-level Medicare for all in Sanders’s home state of Vermont failed because of the massive costs that would have been foisted on hardworking families through higher taxes.

Meanwhile, Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is once again struggling to square her claim that she does not support eliminating private health coverage with her support for Medicare for all – which eliminates private health coverage.  As HuffPost reported: “After taking several seemingly contradictory positions on the issue in recent months, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) confirmed Thursday she supports abolishing private health insurance in favor of a government-run health care program for all Americans.”  But in post-debate interviews Thursday evening and on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Friday morning, Harris stated that she understood the question to have been about giving up her own private insurance, adding further confusion to what is viewed as an already perplexing set of statements by the Senator as she struggles to explain her support for Medicare for all, which eliminates private coverage.

Leading up to the debates, the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future issued a memo outlining the dangers of so-called “moderate” fallback plans, such as “Medicare buy-in” or “public option” schemes, and on Wednesday evening issued a statement pointing out that while some of the presidential hopefuls on the debate stage were quick to acknowledge Medicare for all’s high costs, middle-class tax hikes, and threats to patients’ access to quality care, “the government-run insurance systems supported by many of the candidates making these points – such as ‘Medicare buy-in’ or a ‘public option’ – are stepping stones to a one-size-fits-all system, and would ultimately lead to the same results.”

The Partnership also launched a timely, targeted digital advertising campaign to educate the American public on the realities of government-run insurance systems.  “If you’re watching the Democratic debate online tonight, expect to see a lot of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, POLITICO reported. “The group is sponsoring YouTube’s homepage in 2020 early primary states, as well as in Miami and Washington, D.C. … It also will run video ads online, including on MSNBC’s platform.”  The Partnership also launched video ads on Twitter and Facebook and sponsored a health care-themed SnapChat geofilter around the debate venue. 

Meanwhile, as news outlets drew attention to the high costs and inevitable middle-class tax hikes that come with a one-size-fits-all health care system – with The New York Times reporting such a system “would not come cheaply” and ABC News noting that “health care experts have cautioned against [Medicare for all], which some estimates say could cost the federal government $32 trillion over 10 years” – Americans and local lawmakers also expressed concerns over government insurance programs ahead of the debates.

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