The 2020 Democratic hopefuls can agree on one thing: All Americans should have access to health care. But what that means in practice could look dramatically different depending on which candidate, if any, wins the presidential election.
Four of the 10 candidates who participated in the first Democratic presidential debate tonight are on the record as supporting Medicare for All—a government-run insurance plan for all Americans. The rest seem to support a hybrid way forward, in which Americans who have private insurance would get to keep their plan, but those who are underinsured would be able to sign up for an (ideally inexpensive) public plan.
During the debate, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota supported this more incremental approach. “It’s something Barack Obama wanted to do, which is a public option,” she said, referring to the early debates over the Affordable Care Act. “I’m concerned about kicking half of America off their health insurance.” Beto O’Rourke, the former U.S. representative from Texas, said something similar, noting that he would “preserve choice” by not erasing private insurance plans.
Several others, though, want to go further, putting all Americans on a Medicare-style plan. “I spent a big chunk of my life studying why families go broke. One of the No. 1 reasons is the cost of health care and medical bills,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. “Medicare for All solves that problem.” Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey also seemed to support a single-payer, Medicare for All approach.