As Democratic leaders from Kamala Harris to Cory Booker to Elizabeth Warren line up behind Bernie Sanders’s proposal for a single-payer, “Medicare-for-all” health care system, there’s at least one person who is still not convinced: Hillary Clinton.
In an interview with Vox’s Ezra Klein, Clinton repeated attacks on single-payer she made during her primary campaign against Sanders, arguing that more modest measures like a public insurance option or a Medicare buy-in for people 55 and older are more realistic and achievable.
“I don’t know what the particulars are” on Sanders’s latest plan, Clinton said, but added, “He introduced a single-payer bill every year he was in Congress — and when somebody finally read it, he couldn’t explain it and couldn’t really tell people how much it was gonna cost.”
She clarified that she’d support a bill opening up Medicare or Medicaid and cutting prescription drug costs, but cautioned, “I think it’s going to be challenging if within that bill, there are tax increases equivalent to what it would take to pay for single-payer, and if you’re really telling people — about half of the country — that they can no longer have the policies they have through their employer.”
She noted that this issue arose in 1993-’94, when she was crafting a health reform plan in the Bill Clinton administration, and she concluded then that the forces arrayed against single-payer, not least of which were the public’s fears about such a program, were insurmountable.
She also had a more recent example. “Look at what happened in Vermont,” she said, alluding to the failed effort to pass a single-payer plan in that state. “It wasn’t for lack of trying in Vermont. The Democratic political establishment was behind single-payer, and they worked for years to achieve it. This is in, you know, a small state, where it might’ve been possible. They were talking about an increase in the payroll tax of 9.5 percent, or I think, no, maybe 11.5 percent, they were talking about a sliding income scale, they went up to 9.5 percent — it just was so difficult to put pieces together.”