Health care reform is one of the Democratic Party’s biggest platforms going into the 2020 Presidential race, and also where voters have seen some of the biggest divides in policy amongst the candidates. While most of the frontrunners fall somewhere between supporting a single-payer Medicare For All plan and supplementing the Affordable Care Act with another government-run program, many of the candidates have started sharing more intensive details about their individual plans and how they plan to pay for them as the race continues to heat up.
With the Iowa caucuses fast approaching, here’s where the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates stand on healthcare.
Bernie Sanders continues to be vocal about his “Medicare For All” plan.
As the Vermont senator has said during one of the debates, he “wrote the damn bill” for Medicare For All, and he’s one of the strongest proponents of a single-payer health care program run by the national government.
To pay for his plan, Sanders admitted during the second Democratic primary debate back in July that Medicare For All will raise taxes for the middle class.
“People who have healthcare under Medicare For All will have no premiums, no deductibles, no copayments, no out-of-pocket expenses. Yes, they will pay more in taxes, but less in healthcare for what they get,” he said when he was asked about how he planned to pay for the plan, as Time reported.
Elizabeth Warren also backs Sanders’ plan, although she’s recently veered towards the middle of the road.
While Warren hasn’t hesitated to share her own unique vision on most platforms, healthcare is one arena where she’s mostly deferred to Sanders’ plan, including repeating the argument that middle-class families would save more on healthcare costs even while paying higher taxes. However, she has said it’s possible that there could be “different ways” to get to universal coverage for Americans.
In November, the senator seemed to show a shift towards the middle as she shared a slightly altered plan for eventually rolling out Medicare For All. Most notably, she revealed that she did not have plans to push for a comprehensive Medicare For All rollout until her third year, according to an online post. Though her plan would begin with steps in her first year, the full transition would not be complete until Warren’s third year in office.
“Every serious proposal for Medicare For All contemplates a significant transition period,” Warren explained in the post. “My plan will be completed in my first term. It includes dramatic actions to lower drug prices, a Medicare For All option available to everyone that is more generous than any plan proposed by any other presidential candidate, critical health system reforms to save money and save lives, and a full transition to Medicare For All.”
Joe Biden has voiced his support for adding a new government-run option to supplement the Affordable Care Act.
Unlike Sanders and Warren, Biden has built his platform on adding a government plan that would supplement, but not replace private insurance by continuing to “build” upon Obamacare.
According to his website, any American (including individuals with employer-sponsored coverage) could opt into the public option. In addition, Biden’s plan would up the subsidies people could get by getting rid of the current income cap.
Like Biden’s plan, Pete Buttigieg’s solution would cap marketplace payments at 8.5 percent of income for everyone, while increasing cost-sharing subsidies to help with out-of-pocket costs.
His public option plan, which he’s called “Medicare for all who want it,” would also come with a private option. He’s said publicly that his plan could create a “very natural glide path” toward Medicare For All, although he has maintained that he’d want to offer individuals the choice to have a private plan as well.
According to his website, he plans to pay for his Medicare For All who want it plan mainly by rolling back the Trump administration’s tax cuts for corporations.
Amy Klobuchar has said of Medicare For All, “It could be a possibility in the future. I’m just looking at something that will work now.”
During the fourth Democratic debate, Klobuchar attacked Warren for not being upfront about how she’d pay for Medicare For All, saying, “At least Bernie’s being honest here and saying how he’s going to pay for this and that taxes are going to go up.”
“I’m sorry, Elizabeth, but you’ve not said that, and I think we owe it to the American people to tell them where we’re going to send the invoice,” she added. “… And I appreciate Elizabeth’s work. But, again, the difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something that you can actually get done.”
Similarly, Andrew Yang supports Medicare For All as a long-term goal.
While Yang has said he doesn’t plan to immediately get rid of private insurance, he believes that it would eventually be phased out as it wouldn’t be “economically viable” if it was competing with Medicare For All
Prominent climate advocate Tom Steyer has said he’s not in favor of doing away with private coverage.
Instead, he hopes that putting together an affordable and comprehensive public option will encourage people to leave their private insurance.
“I am not in favor of telling 150 million Americans who get their health care through their employment, including a bunch of union workers, that by fiat they can’t do that any longer,” he said, per NBC News. “I believe the way that we should end employment-based health care is providing a public option that is so much cheaper and better.”
Healthcare is shaping up to be a big issue during the 2020 presidential campaign, so it’s likely to be a hot topic of conversation leading up to the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3 and the February debates taking place on Feb. 7 (in New Hampshire), Feb. 19 (in Nevada), and Feb. 25 (in South Carolina). Voters can expect each candidate to shed some light on the details of their plans as they attempt to differentiate themselves from their competitors.