Biden: If you like your private health insurance, 'you can keep it'

Biden: If you like your private health insurance, 'you can keep it'
© Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBudowsky: A Biden-McConnell state of emergency summit DC might win US House vote if it tries Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman inks deal with IMG Models MORE on Monday said that under his new health care plan, people who like their insurance coverage won’t be forced to give it up.

Speaking at the AARP presidential forum in Iowa, Biden drew a contrast between his plan, which would give people a Medicare-like public option, and the “Medicare for All” plan championed by more progressive Democratic presidential candidates including Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTim Ryan says he's 'looking seriously' at running for Portman's Senate seat Bernie Sanders has been most-followed member of Congress on social media for six years This week: Senate stuck in limbo MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenTim Ryan says he's 'looking seriously' at running for Portman's Senate seat Leahy, not Roberts, to preside over impeachment trial Skepticism reigns as Biden, McConnell begin new era MORE (D-Mass.).

“If you like your health care plan, your employer-based plan, you can keep it. If in fact you have private insurance, you can keep it,” Biden said.


Biden’s speech echoed the now-infamous “if you like your doctor, you’re going to be able to keep your doctor” catchphrase former President Obama repeatedly said in 2009 and 2010 when he was trying to sell the public on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

The GOP seized on those remarks and spent years throwing them back at Democrats to showcase what they said were ObamaCare’s failures. In 2013, PolitiFact called "if you like your health care plan, you can keep it" the "Lie of the Year."

But the law has provided 20 million people with health insurance, and it’s now more popular than ever. 

Biden is running on protecting ObamaCare. He is banking the law’s popularity will convince voters that his plan of shoring up the law with more subsidies and a public option is a better approach than Medicare for All.

“You get your choice, you get full coverage … I think it’s the quickest, most reasonable, rational and best way to get to universal coverage,” he said. 

In formally announcing his plan on Monday, Biden equated the push for Medicare for All with the GOP attempts to repeal ObamaCare.

“I understand the appeal of Medicare for All, but folks supporting it should be clear that it means getting rid of ObamaCare, and I’m not for that,” Biden said in a video announcing his plan. 

The former Delaware senator essentially wants to keep the existing health care infrastructure, while Sanders and Warren are advocating for replacing all forms of private insurance with a government-run system.

In contrast, President TrumpDonald TrumpSchumer: Impeachment trial will be quick, doesn't need a lot of witnesses Nurse to be tapped by Biden as acting surgeon general: report Schumer calls for Biden to declare climate emergency MORE and Republicans in Congress are currently advocating for a federal court to completely eliminate the Affordable Care Act, and all its coverage gains, without a replacement plan. 

In Iowa, Biden also warned the AARP audience that “Medicare as you know it” will go away under Medicare for All.

“All the Medicare you have is gone, it’s a new Medicare system,” Biden said. “It may be as good, you may like it as well, but the transition of dropping 300 million on a new plan, I think kind of is a little risky at this point.”

In a statement in response to the attacks, Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir said Sanders fought to pass ObamaCare and to improve it. He noted a public option "would be both a policy and moral failure" that is destined to fail.

"Insurers would dump the sickest and neediest individuals, causing it to become an inefficient and insufficient 'option,' " Shakir said.