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GOP sen: Democrats talking about 'Medicare for All' shows they're unhappy with ObamaCare

GOP sen: Democrats talking about 'Medicare for All' shows they're unhappy with ObamaCare
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bill CassidyBill CassidyKoch-backed group launches ads urging lawmakers to reject COVID-19 relief bill Biden health nominee faces first Senate test Is the 'civil war' in the Republican Party really over? MORE (R-La.) said on Wednesday that 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls' talk about "Medicare for All" shows that Democrats are unhappy with the current state of the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare. 

“The fact that Democrat candidates are calling for Medicare for All, clearly indicates they understand there are incredible flaws with the Affordable Care Act, and they would like to scrap it,” Cassidy, who has a medical background, told The Hill's Editor-in-Chief Bob CusackRobert (Bob) CusackTrump legal switch hints at larger problems The Hill's Morning Report - President Biden, Vice President Harris begin work today Incoming lawmakers stress coronavirus relief, economy as first priority of new session MORE at The Hill’s Future of Healthcare Summit. 

The event was sponsored by Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Horizon and Amgen Biosimilars, and partnered with the American Public Health Association.

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Cassidy, who has led previous failed efforts to repeal and replace the 2010 law, struck a bipartisan tone, saying discontent on the health care law could lead to changes both sides can agree on. 

“I think I can say I’ve recognized those flaws for a little bit longer, and I would like to address it as well,” he continued. “Hopefully we come together on that.”

Health care proved to be a major motivation for Democratic voters in 2018, with candidates warning that electing and reelecting Republicans would result in more uninsured Americans. 

Medicare for All has become a major issue in the Democratic primary, with the idea being brought to the forefront by Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenYellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill Hillicon Valley: Google lifting ban on political ads | DHS taking steps on cybersecurity | Controversy over TV 'misinformation rumor mills' MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders has right goal, wrong target in fight to help low-wage workers Democrats in standoff over minimum wage Sanders votes against Biden USDA nominee Vilsack MORE (I-Vt.). 

But the idea has not gained traction among all Democrats. 

Cassidy's Democratic colleague, Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinHoyer: House will vote on COVID-19 relief bill Friday Haaland courts moderates during tense Senate confirmation hearing Democrats in standoff over minimum wage MORE (W.Va.) warned against Medicare for All at the health care summit on Wednesday, telling The Hill's Steve Clemons that there are current issues with funding the program as it is. 

“We can’t even pay for Medicare for some and to go Medicare for All, we can’t take care of those who are depending on it right now,” Manchin said. 

The idea hasn't caught on with all Democrats on the campaign trail either. 

Warren and New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioNew Yorkers should double mask until at least June, de Blasio says NYC reports fewer than 1,000 vaccine doses amid winter weather shipment delays NYC's largest union endorses Maya Wiley in mayoral race MORE (D) were the only candidates to raise their hands in support of abolishing private health insurance during the first night of the 2020 debates. 

Other Democrats have instead acknowledged they believe former President Obama's signature health care law has made tremendous progress in the field but needs fixes. 

"Let's be clear: We shouldn't tear the Affordable Care Act down: We should build on it," Democratic front-runner and former Vice President Joe Biden, who was not on Wednesday night's stage, tweeted during the live forum. 

"The Biden administration will give every American the right to choose a public option like Medicare to ensure everyone has access to the quality, affordable health care they deserve," he continued.