‘Medicare for All’ Dominates Dem. Debate

STAT Morning Rounds, July 31, 2019

| Health care was the biggest theme during last night’s second round Democratic debate.

All roads seemed to lead to the “Medicare for All” health plans proposed by two leading candidates: Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Even mention of drug and insurance companies, which usually involves bashing them for high drug prices, focused on Medicare for All — the candidates agreed that such companies are one of the biggest impediments to any universal health coverage system.

There was plenty of other back and forth on Medicare for All, though my favorite exchange, which is now also a meme? Former Colo. Gov. John Hickenlooper claimed Sanders’ plans were “radical” and caught him throwing his hands up. “Throw your hands up!” Hickenlooper goaded, to which Sanders clapped back, “I will!” before pointing out that yesterday was also the anniversary of Medicare being signed into law.

Warren and Sanders defend progressive turf on first night of Detroit debate

BY GRACE SEGERS, KATHRYN WATSON, STEFAN BECKET, JULY 31, 2019

CBS NEWS – The spirited first night of the second Democratic primary debates featured no shortage of confrontation, with more moderate candidates taking aim at the leading progressives on stage over the feasibility of their proposals with varying degrees of success.

Ten candidates sparred over everything from climate change to health care to reparations for slavery, with many of the lower-polling candidates using the opportunity to take shots at the frontrunners.

Whether those attacks were effective, however, was another story. The audience at Detroit’s Fox Theatre roared with applause for Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, two of the top contenders for the nomination.

Meanwhile, bottom-tier candidates like John Delaney, Tim Ryan and John Hickenlooper struggled to land punches and connect with the audience, often choosing to attack Sanders and Warren rather than train their fire on the current administration.

Warren and Sanders emerged largely unscathed, having vigorously defended their proposals while upbraiding their opponents for failing to embrace bold policy positions.

Health-policy comments 

  • Hickenlooper challenged Sanders’ Medicare for All proposal, saying it was unrealistic to implement such a far-reaching policy — and could deter more moderate voters. “Every credible poll has me beating Donald Trump,” Sanders said. Hickenlooper rejoined that Medicare for All would kick too many people off their private health insurance, leading Sanders to throw his hands up in exasperation. “Go ahead, throw your hands up,” Hickenlooper responded. “They’re up!” Sanders said.
  • ​In an exchange with Ryan, who is advocating for a health care approach that’s less drastic than Medicare for All, Sanders insisted his plan would cover things like hearing aids and eyeglasses through insurance that’s as good as what unions have long fought for. “But you don’t know that. You don’t know that, Bernie,” Ryan said while Sanders spoke. “I do know, I wrote the damn bill,” Sanders rejoined, to wild cheers from the audience.
  • O’Rourke criticized some on stage for creating a “false choice” between having Medicare for All or no public option, saying his plan would ensure that everyone would either be in Medicare or keep their insurance. Klobuchar, when asked whether Warren was correct to say in the first debate that those who are opposed to Medicare for All “lack the political will to fight for it,” said she disagreed. “That is incorrect. I just have a better way to do this,” Klobuchar said.
  • Sanders pushed back against the question posed to Klobuchar by moderator Jake Tapper: “Your question, to me, is a Republican talking point.” He also noted that insurance companies would be advertising throughout the debate.
  • However, Williamson said concern over the feasibility of Medicare for All was “not just a Republican talking point,” adding “I have a concern that it will be difficult.” Buttigieg simply added: “It’s time to stop worrying about what the Republicans say.” Read more.