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COUNTDOWN TO CAUCUS: Every top candidate's position on health care
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COUNTDOWN TO CAUCUS: Every top candidate's position on health care


Health care continues to be a driving issue with many candidates.

Health care was a driving issue in the 2018 election, which saw Democrats make significant gains in Iowa and across the country.

It remains a top issue for voters interested in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.

And it is an issue that displays differences between those Democrats in the expansive primary field.

The most clear fault line in the Democratic primary debate is some version of Medicare-for-all, a de facto government-operated health care system, versus expansion of the current health care system plus some version of a public health insurance option.

Generally, Medicare-for-all proposals would place all Americans into a government-operated health care program similar to Medicare. Private insurance would essentially be eliminated, although under some plans those companies would be able to offer supplementary insurance plans.

Medicare-for-all proposals are expensive: roughly $30 trillion over a decade, according to myriad estimates.

Candidates who propose Medicare-for-all — like U.S. senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — say it's needed to cut medical costs for Americans. Under most Medicare-for-all proposals, co-pays and deductibles would be eliminated.

Americans likely would be subject to an increase in taxes to help fund such a program. Proponents say Americans would save money from reduced health care costs and that would more than offset any tax increase.

More moderate Democratic candidates — like former vice president Joe Biden and former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg — are proposing a so-called public option. Under those proposals, Americans would be offered the choice to retain their private insurance or buy into a government-run health care program similar to Medicare.

Buttigieg has coined his public option proposal “Medicare for all who want it.”

Proponents of a public option say it would build on the current health care law signed by former President Barack Obama — with Biden as his VP — and that it allows Americans a choice.

Graham Ambrose is the Iowa politics reporter for the Quad-City Times. 


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