Bernie Says ‘No’ to Pelosi’s ‘Incremental’ Approach to Health Care: Medicare for All

Sanders Medicare for All
Andrew Harnik/AP

Following the release of the “no collusion” Mueller report, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has led the charge to focus on saving the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare as the government-run health care program faces an uncertain future.

Democrats have introduced legislation that would reduce health insurance premiums, protect people with pre-existing conditions, and place restrictions on some types of insurance.

The move has gained support from a lot of Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (R-NY), the New York Times reported.

But Ocasio-Cortez’s former mentor disagrees. When asked by reporters about it, presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) had a one-word response: “No.”

The Times reported:

“No,” he said again, when pressed. “The incremental reform that I support is phasing in ‘Medicare for all.’”

Mr. Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, is not one to compromise on his long-held policy positions, especially his signature stance on health care, though he has, in fact, supported non-“Medicare for all” legislation in the past, including backing a 2017 bill to allow people to buy into state Medicaid plans.

Mr. Sanders’s unflinching position is a reminder to voters that he is unabashedly left-wing and unlikely to worry about working within the confines of the existing system anytime soon. It also reflects a schism within the Democratic Party over the best way to recapture power in Washington: Should Democrats project big, bold policy ideas that could fundamentally alter the political structure but face long odds in a hyperpartisan Congress? Or should they present incremental measures that are more likely to appeal to the center and could succeed sooner?

The Times speculated about the other Democrats hoping to occupy the White House, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who wants to do both.

Other candidates, like Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), former Congressman Beto O-Rourke (D-TX) and even former Vice President Joe Biden — if he finally does get in the race — are taking a more bi-partisan approach, according to the Times.

“It is a debate that has raged within the party since before the midterm elections last year, with some strategists suggesting that bold, disruptive ideas like the ones championed by Mr. Sanders electrify voters and spur them to the polls,” the Times reported.

“Whoever is president next just can’t make incremental change,” Karine Jean-Pierre, a senior adviser to the progressive political organizing group, who worked on President Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, said in the Times report. “We just have to be bold, and we have to take chances — people are hurting. We need to move forward in a big way.”

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said recently that the U.S. health care system is “broken” and also called for “Medicare for all.” But he also expressed support for “practical things,” like lowering drug prices — an issue popular on both sides of the aisle.

“The path to the White House and to majorities has to be in a pragmatic, progressive area,” Jim Kessler, executive vice president for policy at Third Way, a leftist think tank, said in the Times report. “If you go too far left, Donald Trump gets re-elected, and Republicans control both houses of Congress.”

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