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Insurance lobby chief says Biden, Sanders health plans 'similarly bad'

Insurance lobby chief says Biden, Sanders health plans 'similarly bad'
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The head of the nation’s health insurance lobby on Wednesday said he does not see much difference between “Medicare for All,” which is being championed by progressive Democratic presidential candidates, and the public option pushed by former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGeraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: 'Enough is enough now' Senate approves two energy regulators, completing panel Murkowski: Trump should concede White House race MORE.  

Matt Eyles, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), said Biden’s public option would still have too much government involvement in the health care system.

“If you're creating a government-run option that essentially leverages price controls, and relies on a government-administered system, that doesn't create what would be a competitive playing field,” Eyles told The Hill in an interview.

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“It’s more similar in some of the ... Medicare for All-type approaches than … improving upon what the [Affordable Care Act] has,” Eyles said.

Biden has sought to portray himself as a moderate alternative to progressives like Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Overnight Defense: Defense bill among Congress's year-end scramble | Iranian scientist's assassination adds hurdles to Biden's plan on nuclear deal | Navy scrapping USS Bonhomme Richard after fire Biden faces new Iran challenges after nuclear scientist killed MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Warren, Brown voice support for controversial Biden budget office pick Biden's economic team gets mixed reviews from Senate Republicans MORE (D-Mass.), who have fully embraced a health care platform of Medicare for All and eliminating private insurance. 

The former vice president is running on protecting ObamaCare. His plan would involve shoring up the law with more subsidies, but would also give everyone in the country the choice of purchasing a public health insurance option, which would compete with private plans. 

Biden has repeatedly clashed with Sanders, Warren and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisWho will replace Harris in Senate? 'Rising' discusses Wisconsin formally declares Biden won election following recount Moderate Democrats: Everyone's older siblings MORE (D-Calif.) as the Democratic candidates debate how best to reach universal health coverage and has been attacked from the left as someone who is close to the insurance industry.

Warren hit Biden in April for hosting his kickoff fundraiser with wealthy donors, including Daniel Hilferty, the CEO of Independence Blue Cross, one of the country’s leading health insurance companies.   

During the second presidential debate, Harris said Biden would “do nothing” to hold insurance companies accountable, and would allow them to continue “doing business as usual.” 

In a New York Times interview last month, Sanders accused Biden of parroting insurance industry talking points about Medicare for All. 

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.

Despite the Democratic candidates’ efforts to distinguish themselves, Eyles said on Wednesday that his powerful industry group sees them all in a similar light.

“It’s all variations on a theme, which is a much greater government role directly within the health care system,” Eyles said. “We're viewing Medicare for All and all of these other … variations on it, as similarly bad.” 

Eyles said neither the public option proposals nor Medicare for All will “make things better in the long term or the short term. What we want to do is fix what we have.”

AHIP is a member of the anti-Medicare for All industry group called the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, which has been running ads against Medicare for All and public option proposals from the leading Democratic presidential candidates. 

The coalition wants to strengthen ObamaCare and the current insurance market.