Buttigieg: I 'never believed' in 'Medicare for All' that ends private insurance

Buttigieg: I 'never believed' in 'Medicare for All' that ends private insurance
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South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegJuan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete Democrats on edge as Iowa points to chaotic race Democrats debate how to defeat Trump: fight or heal MORE (D) says that he has “never believed” in ending private insurance, denying charges that he has flipped his position on "Medicare for All."

Buttigieg, who is running for president and is attacking his rival Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJuan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete Trump DACA fight hits Supreme Court Democrats on edge as Iowa points to chaotic race MORE (D-Mass.) over her support for Medicare for All, has taken criticism for his own tweet last year when he vowed, “I do favor Medicare for All.”

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Seeking to explain that statement, Buttigieg told The Nevada Independent that the meaning of Medicare for All has changed, and what he meant was that everyone should have the option of Medicare, not that everyone should be forced onto it. 

“Only in the last few months did it become the case that Medicare for All was defined by politicians to mean ending private insurance, and I’ve never believed that that’s the right pathway,” Buttigieg said in the interview. “I still think that we should move toward an environment of Medicare for All.” 

Progressives sharply dispute the idea that the meaning of Medicare for All was unclear before a months ago, noting that Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersJuan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete Democrats on edge as Iowa points to chaotic race Democrats debate how to defeat Trump: fight or heal MORE (I-Vt.) ran for the White House on a Medicare for All bill that replaced private insurance four years ago. 

Buttigieg also appeared to defend a single-payer system that replaces private insurance in a February appearance on MSNBC, calling single-payer a “compromise position” because doctors and hospitals would still be privately owned. 

Buttigieg’s campaign says he supports Medicare for All as an end goal but views his optional plan, which he has often called "Medicare for all who want it," as creating a “glide path” to get there. 

In a potentially politically important move, Buttigieg also noted that some unions do not want to give up the health plans that they negotiated in favor of Medicare for All, noting Nevada’s powerful Culinary Union. 

“I think the best approach is to make this Medicare option available to everybody, but not command everybody to adopt it, especially I’m thinking of folks like the Culinary workers right here in Nevada,” Buttigieg said in The Nevada Independent interview. “There are a lot of labor union members who have negotiated very good health plans that are part of their compensation, and I don’t think they want to be forced into a plan they don’t know.”