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Tipsheet

New York Dem: Actually, Medicare for All Is a 'Losing' Message for 2020

AP Photo/Heather Ainsworth

Centrist Democrats are concerned. Their more progressive colleagues keep promoting this idea about kicking people off of their private health insurance plans and they're just not sure that's a winning message. Yet, leftist presidential candidates like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) proudly raised her hand when the moderator at the first 2020 debate asked if anyone would be in favor of eliminating private insurance plans.

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“For any presidential candidate to raise their hand and say that they want to be for eliminating private health insurance, that is a losing message in 2020, and I would encourage them to rethink their positions,” Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY) warned.

Brindisi wasn't always so averse to a plan like Medicare for All. He voted in favor of single-payer health care back in his days in the New York State Assembly. That bill stated, in part: 

Federal funds now received for Medicare, Medicaid, Family Health and Child Health Plus would be combined with the state revenue in a New York Health Trust Fund. New York would seek federal waivers that will allow New York to completely fold those programs into New York Health. The "local share" of Medicaid funding - a major burden on local property taxes - would be ended.   

Private insurance that duplicates benefits offered under New York Health could not be offered to New York residents. (Existing retiree coverage could be phased out and replaced with New York Health.)

He would later endorse the idea of single-payer or Medicare for All while campaigning for Congress. But, as his re-election nears and he hears how expensive and far fetched the radical idea is, he's abandoned ship.

And he's not the only Democrat who feels that way. He's not even the only New York Democrat who feels that way.

“In a context where Donald Trump is going to turn every idea into a socialist plot, talking about building on the Affordable Care Act is the high ground," argued former Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY). "Trying to defend Medicare-for-all becomes problematic.”

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Democrats around the country have begun to chime in too, as Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) insist they're not crazy.

“I think it is a mistake to want to blow up the system that is working pretty darn well the way it is,” Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA) said.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the 2020 Democratic frontrunner, has done a lot of work to upend Sanders's and Warren's health care agenda too. As he told an AARP group last week, Medicare for All would devastate the system. Should his opponents actually get the plan approved, Biden wondered how they planned to pay for it.

Warren and Sanders have admitted that they'd have to raise taxes on the middle class.

Like many of the more moderate Democrats (at least by this election's standards), Biden is championing a plan that retains and builds upon Obamacare.

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