Yesterday, we wrote about the first night of the Democratic Presidential Debates that took place in Detroit. Today, we will talk about the second night of the debate and what was said about healthcare. Most notably, Kamala Harris has been a large proponent of Medicare for All and released her plan earlier this week. Joe Biden was a large part of the creation of the Affordable Care Act during his time as Vice President, so the evening should have good debate about this issue. On yesterdays blog, we also said that we wanted some more details and straight answers regarding funding and the acknowledgement of the impact on those who deliver healthcare services, like physicians and health systems.
As predicted, the healthcare debate largely focused on expanding the Affordable Care Act, endorsed by Joe Biden, and Medicare for All, a plan proposed by Kamala Harris and the two loudest debaters from night 1, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. All candidates argued that the current system needs to be changed because the system is broken for patients - how they all plan to do so is where the differences. Here’s what the candidates said tonight about their plans.
Kamala Harris: Ms. Harris spent the first part of the night discussing her plan. She was the only one to mention healthcare providers, but did so vaguely, only saying she had spoken to providers while creating her plan. Relating to her proposal, she offered a plan that would allow for continued private insurance until a full implementation of Medicare for All in 10 years. After challenges from other candidates, she largely focused on Joe Biden’s plan and her issues with his strategies.
Joe Biden: Mr. Biden’s plan builds on the Affordable Care Act, allowing people to stay with their employer based plan or enter into a public option. Mr. Biden argued that his plan would not increase taxes for the middle class, which was a large talking point on night 1 of the debates, and could be implemented much quicker than 10 years.
Outside of these two candidates, many debaters offered one or two lines about their plans and critiques of these more popular plans. Here’s a quick overview of what they supported.
Bill DeBlasio: Mr. DeBlasio is in favor of the elimination of the private insurance sector, citing high costs.
Michael Bennett: Mr. Bennett is in favor of finishing out the Affordable Care Act, without increasing middle class taxes.
Julian Castro: Mr. Castro was in favor of expanding Medicare and allowing people to keep their public plan, if that is their choice.
Andrew Yang: Mr. Yang endorsed a Medicare for All plan, citing the frustrations of small business having to support employer health care plans.
The rest of the candidates, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tulsi Gabbard, and Jay Inslee, were largely quiet during this portion of the debate.
Much like the first night of debate, funding was largely unmentioned. Mr. Biden challenged Ms. Harris on the funding of her plan, but that was the only mention of this very important caveat. Additionally, there was only a small, vague mention of providers and the people who deliver healthcare services. These are still two main points that are important to watch as the primaries continue.
Throughout both evenings, it was obvious that on the issue of healthcare, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the front runners and have the most established proposals. Joe Biden spent most of his debate night defending the Affordable Care Act and his opinion that people should be able to keep employer plans if they so choose. Ms. Warren, Bernie and Kamala Harris all focused on Medicare for All, but as noted, the Kamala Harris plan has some significant differences and is not truly Medicare for All until its full implementation in 10 years.
Healthcare will remain a hot topic throughout this election, including both the democratic primaries and the presidential election and is important to monitor. That being said, these debates were a good way to see who is the front runner on all issues, not just healthcare and it is important that everyone voting understands all of these positions.