Democratic presidential candidate Tim Ryan on Wednesday called the "Medicare for All" proposals backed by other 2020 candidates a "potential disaster" for the party, doubling down on criticism of a policy he said would cost Democrats all but two states in next year’s election.
The Ohio congressman devoted much of his rhetoric on Tuesday night’s debate stage to questioning proposals from his more left-leaning counterparts to nationalize the nation’s health system, a plan he said would take private insurance away from union workers who have sacrificed wages during negotiations in order to secure stronger health benefits. Ryan painted Medicare for All, championed most notably by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), as a losing issue across much of blue-collar America.
“I think we’d lose 48 states, and I’m having a hard time figuring out what the two states are we’re going to win if our lead message is, ‘We’re going to confiscate health care from people,’” Ryan said. “Let’s focus on giving health care and getting health care affordable and accessible to people who don’t have it. That should be the message, not taking it away."
Other moderate Democrats have expressed opposition to Medicare for All and echoed Ryan’s fear that pushing such a policy would clear the path for defeat in 2020. Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney called the plan “bad policy” and said it “will just get President Trump reelected.”
“We don’t have to go around and be the party of subtraction, and telling half the country, who has private health insurance, that their health insurance is illegal,” Delaney said.
Both Sanders and Warren are co-sponsors of Medicare for All legislation, which they argue would provide quality care to Americans while cutting out the private sector and lowering health care costs overall. Asked to respond to Delaney’s criticism on Tuesday night, Sanders replied, "You’re wrong."
"If you want a system which gives you freedom of choice with regard to a doctor or a hospital, which is a system which will not bankrupt you, the answer is to get rid of the profiteering of the drug companies and the insurance companies. Move to Medicare for All," Sanders said.
Still, Ryan framed the proposal as political suicide for Democrats.
“If our message isn’t, ‘We want to provide health care for everybody,’ the message is going to be, ‘We want to take really good health care from people in the United States who have negotiated these contracts, negotiated good health care,’” Ryan said.
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