The 2020 race for the Democratic nomination is likely to have more than a dozen significant candidates though maybe only half that number will be serious contenders. Many are enthusiastically embracing a single payer Medicare for All plan as they seek to court the party’s more liberal voters. Senator Bernie Sanders made the issue a priority in his 2016 campaign and if he runs again he will be leading the battle again though there are others who want to share the issue.
However, as the campaign is already beginning to unfold some candidates are being forced to spell out what their plan would entail and whether they would support the single payer idea and get rid of private insurance. Some more moderate Democrats may not be willing to go there with Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio saying it is bad politics. He is saying that improving the Affordable Care Act by providing a public option and lowering the Medicare age to 55 or lower to begin with are better starting points. He and others are noting the ferocious opposition to the Affordable Care Act that, in part, cost the Democrats control of Congress in 2010 and anticipate a full onslaught not only by private insurance companies but by doctors and other providers.
So, it will be interesting to see where the current frontrunner in the polls, former Vice President Joseph Biden, comes down if he decides to run. He takes a more pragmatic approach on many issues and he may opt not to fully embrace Medicare for All. Others like former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who sees himself as a centrist has rejected Medicare for All as too expensive and impractical. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand are closer to the Bernie Sanders position.
Older voters who already have Medicare are concerned about maintaining it and giving the government the power to negotiate the price of prescription drugs in Medicare Part D. Many seniors are also very politically active supporting the single payer plan.
Recent polling shows support for Medicare for All but that support drops significantly when respondents are told that private insurance would not be part of it. For Democrats supporting Medicare for All they will have a lot of educating to do with the public in order to convince them to support such a bold change in the status quo. Health care has always been a political quagmire for those seeking to change it.