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 WarrenDemocratic senators call on domestic airlines to issue cash refunds for travelers Biden's pick for vice president doesn't matter much Biden faces pesky enthusiasm challenge despite big primary numbers 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 ButtigiegReuters poll finds Sanders cutting Biden national lead to single digits Biden says he'll adopt plans from Sanders, Warren Buttigieg guest-hosts for Jimmy Kimmel: 'I've got nothing else going on' MORE’s plan was “thought up by his consultants” and compared Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharDemocratic senators call on domestic airlines to issue cash refunds for travelers Biden's pick for vice president doesn't matter much Hillicon Valley: FCC chief proposes 0M telehealth program | Twitter takes down posts promoting anti-malaria drugs for coronavirus| Whole Foods workers plan Tuesday strike 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 SandersDemocratic senators call on domestic airlines to issue cash refunds for travelers Sanders still sees 'narrow path' to Democratic presidential nomination Tenants call on lawmakers to pass rent freezes 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. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 BidenBiden leads Trump by 6 points in national poll The Memo: Political world grapples with long coronavirus shutdown The Hill's Campaign Report: North Carolina emerges as key battleground for Senate control MORE attacked former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergFormer Bloomberg staffer seeks class-action lawsuit over layoffs Bloomberg spent over 0M on presidential campaign The Hill's Campaign Report: Officials in spotlight over coronavirus response 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 John TrumpIllinois governor says state has gotten 10 percent of medical equipments it's requested Biden leads Trump by 6 points in national poll Tesla offers ventilators free of cost to hospitals, Musk says MORE

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