Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, speaks during a news conference on criminal justice reform on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Under the First Step Act federal mandatory minimum prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders would be reduced and programs to curb recidivism would be expanded. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. (Photo: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg)

Cory Booker said Wednesday, in Detroit, that the candidates running for the Democrats’ 2020 presidential nomination should take a calmer approach to talking about health insurance.

Some of the 10 candidates who participated in the the second night of the Democrats’ second presidential primary candidates’ debate promoted proposals similar to Bernie Sanders’ pure, government-run Medicare for All health finance system, which would ban the sale of traditional private health insurance.

Some promoted alternatives that could let private health insurers have a permanent role in helping to protect people against health care bill risk.

(Related: Delaney v. Sanders: Will Medicare for All Kill the Hospitals?)

Booker, a Democrat who represents New Jersey in the U.S. Senate, said he and his colleagues ought to think carefully about how they talk about the issue.

“The the person that’s enjoying this debate most right now is Donald Trump, as we pit Democrats against each other, while he is working right now to take away Americans’ health care,” Booker said during the debate, which aired on CNN.

Booker pointed out that the Trump administration is now supporting the plaintiffs in a federal court case, Texas v. United States, that could gut the current Affordable Care Act health insurance framework, and eliminate the ACA ban on medical underwriting.

Booker said Democrats should respond to Republicans’ attacks on the ACA by focusing on people’s right to have access to health care, rather than on the details about how to achieve universal access.

“However we get there, there has to be to end this broken system, because we are on our way, in just a handful of years, toward literally spending 20% of our economy, one out of every $5, on health care,” Booker said. ”We spend more than every other nation, on everything from MRIs to insulin.”

Booker said he will attack that problem by working to get the United States to a point where everyone is covered.

“But this pitting against progressives against moderates, saying one is unrealistic and the other doesn’t care enough, that to me is dividing our party and demoralizing us in face of the real enemy here,” Booker said.

Another candidate, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, objected to one commonly expressed concern about Medicare for All proposals: that outlawing use of private health insurance would anger many U.S. residents, by taking away coverage that people like.

“The folks I talk to about health insurance say that their health insurance isn’t working for them,” de Blasio said. “There’s tens of millions of Americans who don’t even have health insurance, and tens of millions more who have health insurance they can barely make work because of the co-pays, the deductibles, the premiums, and the other out-of-pocket expenses. There’s this mythology that somehow all of these folks are in love with their insurance in America. What I hear from union members and from hard-working, middle-class people is they wish they had better Insurance and they’re angry at private Insurance companies that skim all the profits off the top.”

Even the candidates who defended people’s right to keep private health coverage spoke out against for-profit health insurance companies.

Julian Castro, for example, said he believes that people should be able to keep their private coverage.

“What I don’t believe,” Castro said, “is that the profit motive of big pharma or big insurance companies should ever determine, in our great nation, whether somebody gets health care or not.”

 

 

Resources

A link to the video of Democratic presidential debate 2B is available here.

— Read Democrats Fret Over ‘Medicare for All’ Backlashon ThinkAdvisor.

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