Bennet on Medicare for All: We're Still Recovering From Obamacare

May 3, 2019

Presidential hopeful Sen. Michael Bennet (D., Colo.) criticized the push for Medicare for All, saying that it will take away insurance and that Americans are still recovering from the policies implemented by former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.

"When Barack Obama said if you like your insurance you can keep it, several hundred thousand people lost it," Bennet said Friday on MSNBC's Morning Joe. "We're still recovering from that and what we're saying now with Medicare, if you like your insurance, we're going to take it away from you."

Although he criticized Medicare for All, Bennet said the desire for "universal coverage" unites 2020 Democrats. He added that, in his view, Medicare X, which proposes an option for people to opt-into Medicare would play better with Democratic voters.

"I believe my suggestion about Medicare X is a better alternative for Medicare for All in part because I think Medicare for All takes insurance away from 180 million people 80 percent of whom like it in the private market," he said. "If you were sitting in a living room in any community in my state and said we want universal coverage, we want to reduce costs, we want to increase quality, but we have to start by taking insurance away from half of you, the answer would be no, you're not going to start by doing that."

Bennet also referenced his recent brush with cancer—which threatened to prevent him from running—saying that under Medicare for All, he would not have been able to receive the same treatment he did.

"I think the other idea is a robust public option is a choice, whether they want to be in it or not," he said. "I just went through a cancer operation, and I can tell you having been through that and then my kid who's 14 years old had an appendectomy seven days after I had surgery myself, I felt very strongly that I wanted that choice for myself and my family. My option of Medicare X allows people to do that. I think it makes it much more likely that it would ever pass than something that takes away that insurance."

Medicare for All has become a litmus test for 2020 Democrats, with support across the field, including from Sens. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.).