According to the latest national polls, most democratic voters realize that pushing for “Medicare for All” in the 2020 election, will likely push their chances for the White House right out of the window.
The AP has reported that most Democrats appear to be shifting to the middle on healthcare, worried about what’s politically achievable on their party’s top 2020 issue.
While “Medicare for All” remains hugely popular, the majority say they’d prefer building on “Obamacare” to expand coverage instead of a new government program that replaces America’s mix of private and public insurance.
Highlighted by a recent national poll, the shifting views are echoed in interviews with voters and the evolving positions of the top tier Democratic presidential candidates. Some have backed away from the government-run plans that are still championed by far-left contenders, Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
It could mean trouble for Sanders and his supporters, signaling a limit to how far Democratic voters are willing to move to the left amid doubts that Americans would back such dramatic – and likely expensive and unrealistic – changes to our healthcare system.
For example, Las Vegas resident, Erin Cross, a 54 year-old, “lifelong” Democrat, speaking to her local paper, said she’s uncomfortable with switching to a system in which a government plan is the only choice. She said Democrats won’t be able to appeal to Republicans unless they strike a middle ground and allow people to keep their private insurance.
“We’ve got to get some of these other people, these Republican voters, to come on over just to get rid of Trump,” she said.
And, now, presumably out of fear of losing any chance at “getting rid of Trump,” Democratic presidential candidates are doing a 180 on “Medicare-for- All.”
California Sen. Kamala Harris’ new plan would preserve a role for private insurance. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker is open to step-by-step approaches. Meanwhile, healthcare moderates including former Vice President Joe Biden have been blunt in criticizing the government-run system envisioned by Sanders and Warren.
In Cross’s home state of Nevada, an early voting swing state that tests presidential candidates’ appeal to labor and a diverse population, moderate Democrats have won statewide by focusing on healthcare affordability and preserving protections from President Barack Obama’s law.
Large increases in federal spending and a significant expansion of government power are often cited as arguments against Medicare-for-All. However, the main criticism Democrats are hearing from some of their own candidates is that the Sanders plan would force people to give up their private health insurance. Under the Vermont senator’s legislation, it would be unlawful for insurers or employers to offer coverage for benefits provided by the new government plan.
Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan argued during the last round of Democratic debates that’s problematic for union members who gave up wage increases for hard-fought union healthcare plans. For them, and for many others who are happy with their current healthcare plans, “Medicare-for-All,” without a “private option,” is a very hard sell, and the Democrats are starting to see that.