Democratic clash over 'Medicare for All' reaches new heights in debate

Democratic clash over 'Medicare for All' reaches new heights in debate
© Getty

Democratic presidential candidates clashed in some of the strongest terms yet over the "Medicare for All" policy dividing the field at the Nevada debate on Wednesday night. 

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren dodges on whether Sinema, Manchin should be challenged in primaries Former aide says she felt 'abandoned' by Democrats who advanced Garcetti nomination as ambassador to India The Memo: 2024 chatter reveals Democratic nervousness MORE (D-Mass.), who has slipped in the polls recently, in particular went on the attack in ways that she has not before. 

She said former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegAT&T, Verizon to delay 5G rollout near certain airports Top Democrats call on AT&T and Verizon to delay 5G rollouts near airports Hillicon Valley — Airlines issue warning about 5G service MORE’s plan was “thought up by his consultants” and compared Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharApple warns antitrust legislation could expose Americans to malware Big Tech critics launch new project Overnight Defense & National Security — Texas hostage situation rattles nation MORE’s (D-Minn.) plan to a “Post-it note” saying “insert plan here.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Warren has backed Medicare for All but wants to start first with an optional government plan, highlighting the tightrope she has tried to walk on the issue. 

She described her approach as “if we don’t get it all the first time, take the win” and then come back for more. 

That is a contrast with Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersShame on Biden for his Atlanta remarks — but are we surprised? Overnight Health Care — Biden faces pressure from Democrats on COVID-19 Sanders calls out Manchin, Sinema ahead of filibuster showdown MORE (I-Vt.), the emerging front-runner in the race, who has prided himself on not accepting any middle ground on health care short of full-scale Medicare for All, despite the difficulty in getting the plan through even a Democratic-controlled Senate.

“Two-thirds of the Democratic senators are not even on that bill,” Klobuchar said, calling Sanders’s plan unrealistic. 

The Culinary Union in Nevada, a powerful force in the state, has made waves by criticizing Sanders’s plan for taking away the health benefits they negotiated and replacing them with a new government plan. 

Sanders sought to offer reassurance that the government plan would be even more generous. 

“I will never sign a bill that will reduce the health care benefits they have,” he said of the union. 

However, Buttigieg called it “condescension and arrogance” to say the government knows better than unions as to which health insurance plan is best.

Like Klobuchar, Buttigieg is pushing for an optional government health insurance plan that would allow people to retain their private insurance.

Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenMadame Tussauds unveils new Biden and Harris figures US raises concerns about Russian troop movements to Belarus Putin tests a model for invading Ukraine, outwitting Biden's diplomats MORE attacked former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergBiden's Jan. 6 speech was a missed opportunity to unite the nation Democrats must face the reality of their Latino voter problem Invest in kids and families now so that someday I'll be out of a job MORE — who has rocketed to a high standing in the polls after spending millions on ads — for previously calling the Affordable Care Act a “disgrace.”

“I am a fan of ObamaCare,” Bloomberg, a former Republican, said. 

“Didn’t you call it a disgrace?” Biden interjected. 

“Let me finish, thank you,” Bloomberg replied, before pivoting to President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump lawyers to Supreme Court: Jan. 6 committee 'will not be harmed by delay' Two House Democrats announce they won't seek reelection DiCaprio on climate change: 'Vote for people that are sane' MORE

“What Trump has done to it is a disgrace,” Bloomberg said.