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Tapper Challenges Swalwell on Medicare Bill He Cosponsors But Doesn’t Fully Support

CNN host Jake Tapper on Sunday challenged Rep. Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.) for being a cosponsor of the Medicare for All bill, despite not supporting the elimination of private health insurance plans.

"You're a co-sponsor of the Medicare for All bill in the House, which says, quote, it shall be unlawful for a private health insurer to sell health insurance coverage that duplicates the benefits provided under this act,' Tapper said. "Yet you said on Thursday that you don't support an end to private health insurance in this country, so are you supporting a bill you don't fully agree with?"

Swalwell, who announced earlier this week that he is running for president, said that he supports the bill, but would strike the portion that would eliminate private health insurance plans, saying that he would "allow people to keep plans that they like."

"Union members like to keep their union plan. Employers may offer a better plan. I think it's very much in our DNA to have choice, so I will support that," Swalwell said. "The other part of my plan, Jake, is to invest in and find cures in our lifetime. I don't want the debate to be only about coverage because I think one of the best things we do as Americans is to seek and find cures."

Tapper pushed back and asked him why he is cosponsoring a bill that he doesn't agree with, noting how the bill would essentially do away with private health insurance.

"I do agree with the part of having Medicare access for anyone who wants it because that would drive down the cost of the private insurers," Swalwell said. "It's the best bill out there that can do that right now, but being a leader means sitting down and negotiating and finding what works best for everyone. I don't think it has to be a false choice."

"Would you vote for this bill if it came to the floor?" Tapper asked.

Swalwell said that if the bill came to the House floor, he would offer an amendment for a public option, adding that he doesn't believe perfect should be the enemy of the good. Tapper followed up to ask him whether he would support the bill if the amendment didn't pass.

"I think this bill as it is is better than what we have today," Swalwell said. "I will have a public option in the law that i sign in—the bill I sign into law as president."

Rep. Tim Ryan (D., Ohio), who also recently announced he was running for president, shared a similar sentiment on private health insurance. Earlier this week, he said people should not be taken off their private health insurance plans "if they enjoy it," which pits him and Swalwell against other Democrats who support eliminating private health insurance companies.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), who is running for president and recently introduced his path toward universal health care, has been one of the most strident 2020 Democrats when it comes to eliminating private health insurance.