Former Vice President Joe Biden claimed Tuesday that the “vast majority” of Americans remain satisfied with their current health care.
Asked by one reporter where he stands on Medicare for All, Biden responded that he does not support the single-payer health care system because “the vast majority of people are satisfied with their own healthcare system today.”
Biden, however, did add that he endorsed “making a Medicare option available to all,” which some Democrats have floated as a more feasible alternative to single-payer health care. The former vice president said that he wants to let Americans keep their own private insurance plans.
The former president’s comments arise as health insurance premiums, deductibles, and overall healthcare costs have reached record highs under Obamacare, which has led many Democrats to push for single-payer proposals such as Medicare for All.
Biden’s dismissal of Medicare for All serves as a sticking point for many 2020 Democrat presidential candidates who have endorsed Medicare for All, including Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) single-payer bill, but have refrained from calls to eliminate private health insurance.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) claimed Sunday that her support for Sanders’ Medicare for All bill would not eliminate private health insurance, even though Sanders’ legislation would eliminate private insurance except for minor and cosmetic surgeries.
A May Morning Consult poll found that Democrats remain split on what healthcare reforms Congress should prioritize.
In the survey, 30 percent of Democrats said that Congress should preserve and improve Obamacare, 27 percent said that they should pass a public option, and 26 percent said that they should pass Medicare for All, while 13 percent said that they did not know what Congress should prioritize on health care.
Jim Manley, a Democrat strategist, said that it makes sense that Biden remains skeptical of endorsing Medicare for All considering the perils he and former President Barack Obama went through to pass the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“Biden is someone who was there for Obamacare, and he’s still scarred from the experience,” Manley said. “He understands more than anyone how difficult it is to pass health care legislation.”
However, Biden’s reluctance may frustrate more progressive Democrats who want to replace America’s current healthcare system with a single-payer system.
“A public option or other buy-in plans fail to address the underlying problem in the U.S. health care system: corporate greed and profiteering off of the sick,” Sanders said in April. “They fail to simplify the current confusing and dysfunctional administrative system that makes up 17 percent of health care expenditures.”