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ALTOONA — Sen. Bernie Sanders announced a key change to his Medicare-for-all insurance plan Wednesday, a move meant to assuage fears on the part of organized labor, whose support is being heatedly sought by all of the candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Labor representatives have expressed concerns to candidates publicly and to campaign staffs privately that a single-payer system could negatively affect their benefits, which in many cases offer better coverage than private plans. The change announced Wednesday would effectively give organized labor more negotiating power than other consumers would have under his bill by forcing employers to pay out any money they save to union members in other benefits.
The article goes on to state the following:
One of the primary concerns union members and leaders have raised about Sanders’s Medicare-for-all plan is that they negotiated health-care coverage under the current system, in some cases ceding salary in exchange for those benefits.
“The rift between the progressive and moderate Democratic presidential candidates is deepening on healthcare,” Business Insider reports. “In remarks this weekend to wealthy donors at a Hamptons fundraiser, [Sen. Kamala] Harris said she has ‘not been comfortable’ with the Sanders proposal, the Daily Beast first reported. Then the California senator told the Washington Post she didn’t think her discomfort ‘was any secret.'”
According to the Insider, the four Sanders bill co-sponsors running for the presidency are Harris, and Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand.
“The Warren, Harris, and Gillibrand campaigns did not respond to requests for comment asking if they stood by the Sanders bill,” reports the Insider.
The Booker campaign did direct the Insider to Booker’s comments to The New York Times in June, when he acknowledged being a co-signer on the bill but said, “the most important thing is to keep the ultimate goal in mind: affordable health care for every American, because health care is a human right.”
nsider reached out to each of the four Sanders bill co-sponsors running for the presidency: Harris, and Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand. The Warren, Harris, and Gillibrand campaigns did not respond to requests for comment asking if they stood by the Sanders bill.
The Booker campaign pointed to answers the New Jersey senator gave The New York Times on a healthcare policy survey back in June. He acknowledged he was a sponsor of the Sanders bill, but said, “the most important thing is to keep the ultimate goal in mind: affordable health care for every American, because health care is a human right.”
When pressed for additional specifics, the Booker campaign did not respond to requests for comment.
At the onset of the Democratic primary, endorsing Medicare for All became a litmus test for the candidates, a way of highlighting their progressive credentials in a primary driven by party activists. But voters expressed concern with ending private health insurance, forcing some of the candidates to reevaluate their approach. Strengthening the Affordable Care Act is another idea that’s proved popular with Democratic voters.
Read more: 2020 Dems grapple with how to pay for ‘Medicare for All’
“What I think has happened in the Democratic primary is people recognize that some of the concerns about single-payer are not coming from special interests but the public,” Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, told the Post.
Like the Green New Deal, the dynamics suggest Democrats view the Sanders Senate bill as the embodiment of a long-term vision, instead of an immediate plan to run on and fully champion.
Harris rolled out her new Medicare for All plan last month, which would allow private insurers to sell health coverage through Medicare under strict regulations, and aim to achieve universal coverage within ten years.
In the past, Booker labeled himself “a pragmatist” when it comes to healthcare reform and has stressed he would “find the immediate things we can do.”
Warren still has not come out with her own healthcare plan. Though she said she was “proud” to cosponsor the Sanders bill, she’s given herself some breathing room by acknowledging “there are a lot of different pathways” to achieving universal healthcare. Gillibrand recently said at a Washington Post event she liked the idea of a government-run healthcare system that competes with private insurers, otherwise known as the public option.
Sen. Bernie Sanders changes Medicare-for-all plan in face of opposition by organized labor https://t.co/YPST6qh2zD
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) August 22, 2019
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