A former adviser to 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has said that 2020 hopeful Joe Biden is “dangerously close to using Republican talking points” and sounds like President Donald Trump when he discusses Medicare for All.
Appearing as part of a panel discussion on CNN’s New Day on Tuesday, ex-Clinton aide Jess McIntosh shared her perspective on the former vice president’s healthcare pitch. Biden has criticized the proposal of several 2020 Democratic candidates to create universal healthcare for all Americans by expanding Medicare. Biden, who served under former President Barack Obama, prefers instead to expand the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare.
“The risk he [Biden] has here though, is he comes dangerously close to using Republican talking points when talking about Medicare-for-all,” McIntosh said. “There was a lot of ‘Medicare as you know it will go away, seniors will be left with nothing,'” she said.
“That sounds suspiciously like Donald Trump, and as long as Biden is trying to appeal to the Democratic base during the primary, they’re not going to like him engaging with this topic using that kind of language,” she asserted.
On Monday, the former vice president announced his plan to add a public option to the ACA if he were elected president. This would expand Obamacare, and allow it to cover more Americans, but it would fall short of creating a universal healthcare system promised by more progressive 2020 candidates such as Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
“I understand the appeal to Medicare for All. But folks supporting it should be clear that it means getting rid of Obamacare. And I’m not for that,” Biden said. “I was very proud the day I stood there with Barack Obama and he signed that legislation.” He also said that he was “surprised” that so many Democrats were trying to get rid of Obamacare.
Sanders, in an interview with The New York Times published Sunday, called Biden’s criticism of Medicare for All “totally absurd.”
“Obviously what Biden was doing is what the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industries, Republicans, do: ignoring the fact that people will save money on their healthcare because they will no longer have to pay premiums or out-of-pocket expenses,” the senator argued. “They will no longer have high deductibles and high co-payments,” he added.
Concerns and criticism have been raised by some hospitals and medical professionals against proposals to switch to a Medicare for All system. They have pointed out that under the current Medicare and Medicaid systems, hospitals and clinics often lose money on patients insured through the government programs. This is because Medicare and Medicaid set specific amounts they will pay for procedures and treatments. They generally do not pay more even if the treatment’s actual cost exceeds the fixed sum. Currently, hospitals and clinics work to offset these shortfalls through patients using private insurance.
But Sanders argued to The Times that it’s time for bold change to address the healthcare problems in the country.
“Every day, Americans die because they cannot afford the healthcare they desperately need, while the CEOs of insurance and drug companies get rich off their suffering,” he said. “We cannot continue to tinker around the edges while 80 million Americans lack health insurance or are under-insured with high premiums, co-pays, and deductibles.”