Al Gore Calls for United States to Adopt Single-Payer Health Care System

Former Vice President Al Gore / Getty Images
July 19, 2017

Former Vice President Al Gore told a crowd at Borough of Manhattan Community College on Tuesday night that he would like to see a single-payer health care system implemented in the United States.

Gore was speaking at an event to promote his new climate change documentary, but went off-topic to discuss health insurance companies and how they have failed to offer cost-effective coverage to Americans, according to HuffPost.

"The private sector has not shown any ability to provide good, affordable health care for all," Gore said. "I believe we ought to have single-payer health care."

Gore's statement makes him one of the first prominent Democrats to publicly support the so-called "Medicare-for-all" plan that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) has been publicly advocating. Gore's call for a single-payer plan came after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) was unable to pass the Republican health care bill to replace Obamacare this week.

McConnell could not rally enough Republican senators to pass the bill. With Senate Republicans lacking the votes to repeal Obamacare without a replacement, President Donald Trump suggested on Twitter that they should just let Obamacare fail on its own terms.

Gore blamed what he called the "morass" surrounding the passage of Obamacare in 2009 on a cap-and-trade bill failing.

"In 2009, President Obama passed it in the House and he succeeded, but it was different when it came to the Senate," Gore said at the New York Times-hosted event, "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power."

"I think we could have passed it in the Senate in 2009, and we could have gone to the climate negotiation in Copenhagen with a stronger hand, but that's water under the dam," Gore said.

While Gore did not include a government health care option on his platform for his failed presidential bid in 2000 against George W. Bush, he did later "favor" the policy while speaking on an ABC News panel in 2002.

"I think we've reached a point where the entire health care system is in impending crisis," Gore said at the time. "I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we should begin drafting a single-payer national health insurance plan."

Gore is not alone in his push for the single-payer health care system, as several progressives have been vocal over recent months about the system being the next step for Democrats, HuffPost reported.

Progressives, backed by strong grassroots support from the party's base, moved swiftly to embrace single-payer proposals as the long-anticipated Republican assault on Obamacare began this year. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) launched a "Medicare for all" push in March. In June, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called it "the next step" for Democrats. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) endorsed the policy last month, declaring, "we should have Medicare for all."

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), widely considered a contender for the 2020 presidential race, said earlier this month that "as a concept, I'm completely in support of single pay," but insisted, "we've got to work out the details, and the details matter on that."