Democrats clash over eliminating private health insurance at first debate

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the first Democratic primary debate Wednesday night that they would favor eliminating private insurance.
  • Warren and de Blasio were the only two among the 10 Democratic hopefuls on stage to raise their hands when asked if they favored abolishing private insurance.
  • The issue over health insurance marked the first stark divide among the candidates, and sparked a heated back-and-forth between many of the candidates on stage.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the first Democratic primary debate Wednesday night that they would favor eliminating private insurance.

Warren and de Blasio were the only two among the 10 Democratic hopefuls on stage to raise their hands when asked if they favored abolishing private insurance.

The rising cost of insurance premiums, Warren said, makes it more difficult for families and children to get health care. “Medicare for all solves that problem,” she said.

Warren said she aligned with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, on government-run health care that replaces private health insurance.

“I’m with Bernie on Medicare for All,” Warren said. 

The issue over health insurance marked the first stark divide among the candidates, and sparked a heated back-and-forth between many of the candidates on stage.

“I think this is potentially the most important point so far,” said Lynn Vavreck, an American politics professor at UCLA. “There is some disagreement here on what was asked of them, but I think this will generate a lot of coverage which will be good for Warren.”

Other Democrats said they would maintain private insurance, while staking out their own health care agendas, including adding a public option and lowering prescription drug costs.

Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney scored a round of applause when he called for health care reforms that “keeps what’s working and fixes what’s broken.”

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar slammed President Donald Trump for failing to deliver on his promise to lower drug prices, and for permitting what she called “giveaways” to pharmaceutical companies.

“For the rest of America, that’s what we call at home, ‘all foam and no beer,'” Klobuchar said.

The Trump administration has railed against Medicare for all as an expensive and inefficient boondoggle that would shrink gross domestic product and household incomes. Ahead of the congressional midterm elections in November, Trump published an op-ed in USA Today targeting seniors by claiming Medicare for all would “end Medicare as we know it.” 

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.



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