Democrats, GOP Fight To Define ‘Medicare For All’ Message

The two most popular proposals for making the federal government the largest health insurer of Americans will be released next week and their details could pay a major role in the 2020 elections.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who joined the Democratic presidential nomination contest this week, and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) are expecting to release their “Medicare for All” bills separately at the end of February. Both see the idea of providing health insurance for every American by effectively replacing most of the private insurance market with a publicly run insurer as an aspiration the Democratic Party should rally around.

Their supporters say Americans are growing increasingly frustrated with the health-care industry and are more willing than ever to embrace the idea. Republicans and health-care industry groups are betting that Americans will reject a single-payer health insurance system after they hear how it’ll disrupt their lives by replacing their current coverage.

Whoever is correct could end up controlling more of the levers of government in 2021.

Most insured Americans, 156 million in 2017, get coverage through their employers and that type of coverage has long polled well among Americans, said Ford O’Connell, a political analyst and Republican strategist who has focused on health messaging.

“By putting out bills that end private insurance they’re opening themselves up to attacks that allow Republicans to turn the message around and say ‘now you’re taking away health care,’” O’Connell said. “This could level the playing field.”

Republicans in the House have been pushing Democratic leaders to hold hearings on the measure both to attack fault lines among Democrats and to start their own messaging campaign on the issue.

Read more from Alex Ruoff at Bloomberg Government 

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