The four Democratic presidential candidates who spoke at a forum in Sioux City Friday agree the nation’s health care system needs reform, but they differ on how aggressive the effort should be.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren said “Medicare for All” will provide maximum coverage at a minimum price.
“It’s about health care from our babies to our seniors,” Warren said, “so that no one has to go bankrupt over a medical problem.”
Warren is calling for the elimination of private insurance.
“Look at the basic business model,” Warren said. “It’s charge the maximum amount you can in premiums and pay out the least that you can in health care coverage and last year, following exactly that model, insurance companies sucked $23 billion in profits out of the system and that’s before you even count the tens of millions that they paid the corporate CEOs, how much people had to spend on time, on paperwork and hours fighting with insurance companies.”
Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke calls his plan “Medicare for America.” It would let Americans to buy into Medicare on a sliding scale, based on income, but O’Rourke does not support ending private insurance.
“So we get to universal, guaranteed care while still preserving choice,” O’Rourke said, “and we avoid the false choice between the status quo — what we have today, the Affordable Care Act – and something that would force tens of millions of American off private insurance and into Medicare.”
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang supports moving to a “Medicare for All” system that would cover non-traditional treatments, too, like acupuncture.
“Different things work for different people,” Yang said. “…Our health care programs should cover different types of holistic treatments that people find constructive and helpful and beneficial.”
Marianne Williamson, an author and spiritual adviser who was the other candidate to speak in Sioux City Friday, opposes Medicare for All.
“I want to be an agent of change. I don’t want to be an agent of chaos,” Williamson said, starting to snap her finger to emphasize her point. “I’m afraid if go in there and think: ‘Medicare for All! Get rid of private insurance right away, etc,’ I’m afraid the brakes are going to lock.”
On Monday, AARP and The Des Moines Register began hosting 17 Democratic presidential candidates at forums in five cities, all focused on senior issues. Three candidates will appear at the final forum Saturday afternoon in Council Bluffs
(Additional reporting by Olive Gardner in Sioux City.)