Sanders Courts GOP Voters With 'Medicare For All' Plan

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is trying to use “Medicare for All” to win over white working-class voters, many of whom supported President Trump in 2016.

The 2020 candidate went on Fox News, Trump’s turf, on Monday night for a town hall, where audience members cheered when asked if they would support Medicare for All. Sanders shared the clip on social media several times the following day.

But Republicans see Medicare for All as a winning issue for their side as well, and they’re eager to attack Sanders and other White House hopefuls on the proposal.

Polling indicates the battle could come down to how the issue is framed.

A majority of voters favored a Medicare for All plan when asked about the concept: A Kaiser Family Foundation poll in January found that 56 percent of adults surveyed supported having a single government-run health plan for all.

But that number drops significantly when respondents are asked about tax increases or other downsides to the plan.

Just 37 percent of respondents said they supported Medicare for All when informed that the proposal would require most Americans to pay more in taxes. Likewise, only 37 percent backed the plan when told it would eliminate private insurance.

“It is ingenious branding surrounded by a terrible idea,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell, adding that Republicans should make sure voters know that Medicare for All means a huge government price tag, higher taxes and eliminating private insurance, including Medicare Advantage plans that many seniors like.

Studies from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and the Urban Institute have both found that Medicare for All would cost the federal government about $32 trillion over 10 years.

O’Connell said the White House is keen to keep Medicare for All on the front burner.

“They are very happy to talk about Medicare for All,” he said. “They like this. They like the possibility of going against Bernie.”

Read more from Peter Sullivan at The Hill

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Analysis & Political Strategy