As Iowa Democrats prepare to pick their party’s first winner in the presidential primary, the candidates’ approach to health care remains one of the most substantial and potentially divisive issues voters will have to face. Here’s a brief review of where the candidates stand on Medicare for All, the proposed sweeping overhaul of the U.S. health-care system that has served as a point of contention during the campaign:
Bernie Sanders: The Vermont senator is the most vocal supporter of Medicare for All, which he says would end up saving money for the country overall, despite its enormous price tag. Sanders wants to ban private insurance and eliminate out-of-pocket spending for patients, while covering a wider array of services than the current Medicare system. “The ambitious proposal would cost more than $30 trillion over 10 years, according to independent analyses,” Reuters’ Joseph Ax writes.
Elizabeth Warren: The Massachusetts senator also supports Medicare for All and has released a detailed plan for financing it. Facing pushback on her proposal, Warren released a transition plan for moving to a single-payer system more gradually over several years. “That proposal drew some criticism from the left, with Sanders supporters claiming she had backed down from her Medicare for All stance,” Ax says. “Warren has said she remains committed to Medicare for All and that her plan would provide more coverage to more Americans in a shorter time frame.”
Joe Biden: The former vice president says he wants to expand the Affordable Care Act by offering a public option for insurance. “His healthcare plan, estimated to cost $750 billion over 10 years and paid for partly by higher taxes on the wealthy, would let people enroll in a paid government healthcare plan as an alternative to private insurance,” Ax writes.
Michael Bloomberg: The former mayor of New York City says Medicare for All is unaffordable and proposes to offer a public option for insurance that exists alongside the current employment-based system. His plan would cost $1 trillion over 10 years.
Pete Buttigieg: The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has proposed a public option he describes as “Medicare for all who want it.” Buttigieg says that over time, that option would result in a single-payer system as more Americans sign up for cheaper and more efficient Medicare. His plan would cost $1.5 trillion over 10 years.
Amy Klobuchar: The centrist Minnesota senator says that Medicare for All is a “pipe dream,” and would instead offer a public option through either Medicare or Medicaid, paid for in part by raising taxes on the wealthy.
Andrew Yang: The tech entrepreneur says he supports the “spirit” of Medicare for All and wants to provide a public option to give people the freedom to leave their jobs. However, he does not want to ban private insurers.
Tom Steyer: The finance billionaire has proposed a public option that would cost $1.5 trillion over 10 years.