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Tim Ryan: People Should Not Be Taken Off Private Health Insurance ‘If They Enjoy It’

Rep. Tim Ryan (D., Ohio) on Thursday said that people should not be taken off their private health insurance plans "if they enjoy it," pitting himself against other Democrats who support eliminating private health insurance companies.

Ryan, who announced last week that he was running for president, appeared on CNN's At This Hour to discuss Medicare for All and how he believes it should be implemented.

Host Kate Bolduan said Ryan has been a supporter of Medicare for All and asked why he believes this is the best way to "fix a broken system."

"Well, I have been on the Medicare for All bill since 2007, but like anything I think we need to take steps in that direction," Ryan said. "I personally don't believe we need to take people off of their private health insurance if they enjoy it. We need to make sure there are protections there for them around pre-existing conditions and all of that."

Bolduan followed up to ask Ryan if he can reach the "dream" of Medicare for All with a single-payer system and let people keep their private insurance.

"I think the natural next step is for us to bring the Medicare system down to 50 or 55. It would take care of a large swath of people in the industrial midwest and around the country who maybe lose their job when they're 55 or 60, have a rough time affording insurance," Ryan said. "I also think a natural next step is to allow small businesses who have 50 employees or under to be able to buy into the Medicare system. That will help us grow our economy around entrepreneurship and innovation."

Later in the interview he was asked whether it was a "bad idea to wipe out private insurance," prompting him to say, "Yes."

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.  Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) said, "Let's eliminate all of that" when she was asked by CNN's Jake Tapper back in January whether people would get to keep their private insurance if they like it. She would later walk back her comments.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) was asked earlier this week whether she supports private health insurance being eliminated, prompting her to say, "You’ll have to see whether they want to compete or not. I don’t think they will."

She previously said in February that this was an "urgent goal."