A notepad with medicare for all written on it next to medical equipment on a counter
Employee Benefits

Whatever Happened to Medicare for All?

Den Bishop
Den Bishop
Senior Advisor

Senator Bernie Sanders was storming toward a victory in the Democratic Presidential primary in 2020 before the Democratic party rallied support behind Joe Biden. Sanders’ signature platform was Medicare for All, and the concept was winning at the polls.

Flash forward three years, and it feels like the role of healthcare in politics has changed by three decades! Even though Senator Sanders has once again introduced Medicare for All legislation, there is no media coverage of the subject. Quite frankly, there seems to be no discussion of healthcare as a political issue at all.

Here’s my view of why, and my prediction of what’s to come.

President Biden Got What He Wanted

President Biden’s healthcare platform is to strengthen the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare). Dramatic increases in the subsidies — and in the people eligible for those subsidies — were quietly woven into COVID relief legislation. President Biden got what he wanted without having to shine a light from media or public scrutiny on the increase in spending and federal deficit required to do it. His campaign focus will be on protecting Medicare rather than expanding it for all.

From ‘Medicare for All’ to ‘Roe v. Wade’

Whether it is referred to as reproductive rights by the Democrats or abortion by the Republicans, the health topic that is more meaningful in the polls at this point is the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. It will be more powerful for Democratic candidates to focus on this emotionally charged health topic rather than revisit a perceived government takeover of America’s health system.

Repeal and Replace What?

Republicans rallied behind their “repeal and replace” anti-Obamacare messaging for almost a decade. They were exposed when they could not come up with an acceptable replacement. Republicans are vulnerable because of their lack of marketable health strategy, so they will focus on the economy, national security, and President Biden’s age rather than healthcare.

Is Medicare for All Gone Forever?

Vice President Kamala Harris was co-sponsor of Senator Sanders’ Medicare for All bill when she was in the Senate, and I don’t believe she has changed or forgotten her personal belief. Progressive Democrats still believe this is right for America and a winning strategy at the polls.

The increasing costs within the private health insurance system will continue to rise. America’s health system will be even more expensive than other countries, and our clinical outcomes will still lag behind. Medical debt will still be the most common element in personal bankruptcy. Far too many people will be delaying or avoiding care because of concern over cost.

An expanded federal government role in healthcare will NOT be a major issue in the 2024 Presidential election, but it will likely be THE issue in 2028.

Do you agree? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Reach out and let me know.

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