Democrats Bash Single-Payer Health Care

For the past eight years, Democrats have been hesitant to embrace a single-payer health care system and often bashed the policy.

Now, a growing number of Democrats have embraced the idea of the United States adopting a single-payer system.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) introduced his "Medicare for All" bill this month, and a number of his Democratic Senate colleagues have signed onto it. Some of those who support Sanders' plan are potential 2020 presidential contenders, including Democratic Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Kamala Harris (Calif.), Al Franken (Minn.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.).

Not all Democrats have signed onto Sanders' plan, however.

Sen. Chris Coons (D., Conn.) called the legislation a "distraction."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) took heat from her constituents at a town hall event when she said she is "not there" on supporting a single-payer plan.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) said earlier this year that single-payer is too expensive and that she would not support it. In August, McCaskill appeared to change her mind and said she would consider supporting single-payer.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) believes single-payer should be explored but said he is "skeptical" of it.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.), the Democratic Party's vice presidential nominee in 2016, said he prefers more choices for his constituents rather than fewer.

"I'd favor increasing options rather than reducing options, so I would really prefer that than a single-payer system," he said.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton expressed her worries about her party embracing single-payer in an interview with Vox. Clinton criticized Sanders, her 2016 primary opponent, for not being able to explain the cost of his bill.

"As you might remember during the campaign, he introduced a single-payer bill every year he was in Congress," Clinton said of Sanders. "And when somebody finally read it, he couldn't explain it and couldn't really tell people how much it was going to cost."

During the debate surrounding the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, President Barack Obama and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), now the Senate's minority leader, backed away from supporting single-payer.

"There are some on the left who say Medicare for all, let's just have a government program. If it were Medicare for all, the private insurance industry would be out of business," Schumer said in a 2009 interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "The public would be happier. But the cost, because Medicare costs are going up so much, would be so huge. We'd be broke. OK, so we can't do that."

"In America it would be neither practical or realistic," Obama said in reference to single-payer.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) has been a proponent of single-payer but does not believe Congress should pass the legislation due to the lack of public support. She has indicated states should enact their own single-payer systems if they want but not the federal government. Pelosi also said earlier this month that Sanders' bill cannot "prevail unless we have the Affordable Care Act protected."

Vermont, Colorado, and California have all attempted to enact a single-payer system but struggled to figure out how to pay for it. Back in 1987, Sanders acknowledged the "astronomical cost" of single-payer.