FLASHBACK: Schumer Claims to Progressive Group He Led ‘Medicare for All’ Fight, But He Said in 2009 ‘We Can’t Do That’

'We'd be broke'

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) claimed Sunday he led the fight to push the Medicare for all health care reform in 2009, but the lawmaker told MSNBC in 2009 that "we can't do that" and if such a program was enacted, "we'd be broke."

During a strategy call with the progressive advocacy group MoveOn.org on Sunday, Schumer took a question about health care policy in the wake of the recent failed Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

"Are we going to try and get Medicare for all?" one caller asked. "I mean, that's the next logical step, I think, and that's what you guys were talking about, too."

"Actually, we tried to get Medicare for all rather than the ACA [Affordable Care Act] back in 2009," Schumer said. "I was one of the leaders to do it. People love Medicare. It's a more effective and efficient system, and it actually costs less than a lot of these quasi-public, quasi-private hybrids, and we're going to fight hard for it … It has a lot of support in our Democratic caucus."

Schumer's statement is refuted by what he said during a "Morning Joe" appearance on Oct. 5, 2009. Schumer came on the program to discuss his push to include a "public option" in the health care reform package being debated at the time.

When host Joe Scarborough expressed reservations, Schumer interrupted to rip the single-payer system as too expensive to function.

"This is important," Schumer said. "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. 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."

Schumer said his proposal instead was a public option, a competitor run by the government but not one with "undue advantage."

Democrats abandoned the public option measure in 2009 when then-Sen. Joe Lieberman (I., Conn.) threatened to filibuster over the creation of a government-run insurance company.

Schumer endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in the 2016 battle for the Democratic nomination. Her chief opponent, liberal darling Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), endorses a single-payer health care system and plans to introduce such legislation in the coming weeks.