Warren uses debate stage to embrace 'Medicare for All'

Warren uses debate stage to embrace 'Medicare for All'
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Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen Biden wins DC primary Warren asks Pentagon IG to probe military role in Trump's protest response MORE is all-in on “Medicare for All.”

Leaving no room for misinterpretation, Warren was one of only two candidates on the debate stage of 10 White House contenders Wednesday night to raise their hand when asked who would abolish private insurance in favor of a government-run, single-payer system.

“I’m with Bernie,” she said.


It was Warren’s strongest show of support yet for Medicare for All, the single-payer, government-run health care proposal authored by her main rival on the left, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden wins DC primary Biden wins Montana primary Biden wins New Mexico primary MORE (I-Vt.).

While she previously said she supports Medicare for All, her position on the future of private health insurance had been hard to pin down.

Asked at a CNN town hall in March if there would be a role for insurance companies under a Warren presidency, she replied: “There could. Or there could be a temporary role. Even Bernie's plan has a runway before it gets there, because it's — look, it's a big and complex system, and we've got to make sure that we land this in a way that doesn't do any harm. Everybody has got to stay covered. It's critical.”

But Wednesday, she took a different tack.

“Look at the business model of an insurance company. It’s to bring in as many dollars as they can in premiums and to pay out as few dollars as possible for your health care,” Warren said. “That leaves families with rising premiums, rising co-pays and fighting with insurance companies to try to get the health care that their doctors say that they and their children need. Medicare for All solves that problem.”

Politicians who say Medicare for All isn’t feasible just aren’t willing to fight for it, she added.

Other candidates who say they support Medicare for All, and who have co-sponsored the Sanders measure in the Senate, have been reluctant to say they would get rid of private insurance, even though that’s essentially what the bill does. It would make it illegal for private companies to offer plans that cover the same benefits as the government’s.

Sanders’s plan also would cover every medically necessary service, including dental, vision and long-term care for people with disabilities, leaving little room for private insurers.

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerCalls for police reform sparks divisions in Congress Schumer calls on McConnell to schedule vote on law enforcement reform bill before July 4 This week: Senate reconvenes as protests roil nation amid pandemic MORE (D-N.J.), a Senate co-sponsor of Sanders's bill, didn’t raise his hand Wednesday night, saying that while the best way to get to universal health coverage is Medicare for All, he would want to make immediate reforms after taking office.

“Too many people are profiting off the pain of people in America, from pharmaceutical companies to insurers,” Booker said.

New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioWatch live: De Blasio holds press conference on NYC protests, pandemic response The Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen Trump, Biden battle to shape opinion on scenes of unrest MORE was the only other presidential candidate in Wednesday’s debate to say he would abolish private insurance in favor of a government-run system.

Warren’s position sets her apart from other candidates, some of whom have been reluctant to shun a system that covers more than half of the insured population.

At the same time, her new stance comes with political risk, as polls show support for Medicare for All declines when voters learn it would eliminate private insurance.

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted in January, found that support for Medicare for All dropped from 56 percent to 37 percent when respondents were told it would eliminate private health insurance.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenPoll: Majority 'sympathetic' to protesters, disapprove of Trump's response In a year like no other, we'll hold the election of our lifetime The Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen MORE and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBiden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Here's how Biden can win over the minority vote and the Rust Belt MORE, who have both said they support private insurance, will likely have to defend their positions during Thursday night’s debate.

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen Calls for police reform sparks divisions in Congress Harris: Trump 'just tear-gassed peaceful protesters for a photo op' MORE (D-Calif.), also a co-sponsor of Sanders’s bill, has noted that under the proposal, private insurance could still offer supplemental insurance to cover services not offered under Medicare for All.

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSenate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers Senate Democrat introduces bill to protect food supply It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE (D-N.Y.), another presidential candidate co-sponsoring Medicare for All, told The New York Times she believes the system would “eventually displace the private insurance industry from providing health care.”