Warren’s Private Health Insurance Blow Up

Warren, de Blasio were only Dems to back eliminating private insurers at debate

The first Democratic primary debate on Wednesday night included a question directed at all ten candidates on stage as to whether or not they would abolish private health insurance in favor of a government-run alternative. Only two — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) and Mayor Bill de Blasio — raised their hands.

Because Warren is the only one who actually has a shot at winning the party's nomination, a number of Democratic-aligned pundits and strategists have been expressing concern at how her enthusiasm for eliminating private health insurance might be received among general election voters. (Hint: probably not well.)

Warren's stated position, Chait writes in the accompanying article, "could prove deeply harmful and perhaps deadly" in a general election, given that a majority of Americans — 58 percent, according to a poll conducted earlier this year — oppose the idea of getting rid of private health insurance.

Even Paul Krugman is queasy about the political ramifications of Warren's "full-on embrace of single-payer" health care. It's a position he doesn't necessarily oppose, but he's worried about all the rube voters out there who might be more skeptical.

For this reason, Krugman and others have been trying to warn Democrats not to make the elimination of private health insurance a "purity test" for 2020 presidential candidates. He doesn't want Democrats to blow their "huge" advantage on the issue of health care reform, so he can only hope that Warren, if nominated, will pivot to a more palatable position.