Democratic presidential contenders battled over healthcare coverage during their first debate on Wednesday, reflecting the party’s divisions on whether to abolish private insurance and shift to a Medicare-for-All system.
Presented with a question that cut to the core of the “Medicare for All” debate, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren were the only two among the 10 Democratic candidates on stage who raised their hands in favor of banishing private insurance and were in favor of a government-sponsored health care approach.
Warren said private insurance is taking a toll on Americans. She backs a government-sponsored Medicare for All approach and criticized those who say it is not politically feasible.
Warren further said that she supports Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders plan to institute Medicare-For-All, which would eliminate private health care and put everyone on government-run Medicare.
“So, yes, I’m with Bernie on Medicare-for-all and let me tell you why,” she replied. “I spent a big chunk of my life studying why families go broke and one of the number-one-reasons is the cost of health care, medical bills. And that’s not just for people who don’t have insurance. It’s for people who have insurance.
Most of Warren’s rivals on Wednesday night, including O’Rourke and Klobuchar called for universal healthcare but didn’t want to get rid of private insurance at the same time.
On health care, Klobuchar said she was “simply concerned about kicking half of Americans off their health insurance in just four years” and preferred a more cautious approach to realizing the goal of universal health care coverage.
Medicare for All has been the clearest dividing line in a primary that has skewed progressive. The most heated debates on the stump, and among liberals on its periphery, have centered on whether the next Democratic president should seek to revamp Barack Obama’s landmark health care law or effectively blow it up in favor of of a radical remarking of the nation’s health care system.