Joe Biden discusses his healthcare plan and the “public option”
Olivia Sun, Des Moines Register
MAQUOKETA, Ia. — Former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday referred to his health care plan as “Medicare for All Who Want It,” employing the phrase used by Pete Buttigieg, one of his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Biden used the phrase while answering a question from voter Susan Reighard about high health care costs at a town hall in eastern Iowa.
“My proposal is straightforward. It is Medicare for all who want it and it significantly increases the subsidies to be able to get class A coverage,” Biden said. He went on to say the plan would limit people’s annual co-pays to $1,000 per year, reduce drug prices and allow Medicare to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs.
Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has been describing his own health care plan as “Medicare for All Who Want It” for months. Previously, Biden has often described his health care plan as building on the Affordable Care Act, which he helped pass as vice president.
On Wednesday, he also said he wants to “finish the job” that the ACA began.
There are differences between the Buttigieg and Biden proposals, but both plans essentially would allow Americans a choice of buying into a government-run health care program or keeping private insurance plans.
Later in his answer, Biden referred to his plan as “Medicare, if you want it,” emphasizing that people would be able to keep private health care if they choose to.
Biden also took a swipe at rivals like U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who support “Medicare for All.” Warren has faced questions about how she would pay for the program, which would place all Americans on a government-run health care plan, and Biden campaign officials recently criticized Sanders for not saying which taxes he would raise to fund the plan.
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“By the way, unlike a lot of people, I tell you how much my plans cost. OK?” Biden told the crowd. He said his health care plan would cost about $720 billion.
Some estimates predict Medicare for All could cost more than $30 trillion over 10 years, although proponents argue Americans would save on costs overall.
Reighard, 58, of DeWitt, said she liked Biden’s answer to her question and she plans to caucus for him.
“I like the idea of doing the Medicare buy-in for people like me that fall through the gaps, rather than Medicare for All,” she said. “I think Medicare for All is going to be a hard sell. I don’t think it’s going to pass through the Legislature. I just don’t see that happening.”
Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.
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