How Obamacare, Medicare and ‘Medicare for All’ muddy the campaign trail

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By Shefali Luthra, Kaiser Health News

The health care debate has Democrats on Capitol Hill and the presidential campaign trail facing renewed pressure to make clear where they stand: Are they for “Medicare for All”? Or will they take up the push to protect the Affordable Care Act?

Obamacare advocates have found a powerful ally in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who in a recent “60 Minutes” appearance said that concentrating on the health law is preferable to Medicare for All. She argued that since the ACA’s “benefits are better” than those of the existing Medicare program, implementing Medicare for All would mean changing major provisions of current Medicare, which covers people 65 and up as well as those with disabilities.

This talking point — one Pelosi has used before — seems tailor-made for the party’s establishment. It’s politically palatable among moderates who believe that defending the ACA’s popular provisions, such as protecting coverage for those with preexisting conditions, fueled the Democrats’ House takeover in 2018.

Progressive Democrats argue that the time has come to advance a far more disruptive policy, one that guarantees health care to all Americans. Those dynamics were on full display on Capitol Hill, as recently as an April 30 Medicare for All hearing.