Democratic candidates for president are divided over healthcare. So are their voters.
One of the main fissures in the Democratic primary field is over healthcare. Democrats by and large agree that everyone should have access to health insurance. The question is how to get there.
Moderates -- like frontrunner Joe Biden -- want to shore up and expand the Affordable Care Act. Others -- among them Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris -- favor some version of a single-payer system, in which all Americans are covered by government-run insurance. This approach has become known as Medicare For All.
Likely Rhode Island primary voters are split on what to do -- at least, according to my very informal, grocery-store-parking-lot survey.
“Can we afford it? How do we get there from here?” asks Tom Boyd, a retired small business owner who lives in Bristol. “Medicare for all sounds good, but it’s how you get there from here. The devil is in the details.”
Echoing Tom’s take was Sal Caiozzi of Cranston, a retired school teacher. “I don’t think Medicare For All is workable. I think it’s too much too fast.”
Sal pointed to a “public option” as another possible way forward. That policy would let some Americans younger than 65 buy into a government-run plan. (It’s what Joe Biden has proposed. Sal says he likes Biden.)
But some are ready to blow up the private insurance system in favor of Medicare For All.
Lindsay Tasse is a mental health counselor. She lives in Providence. “I think we need some radical change,” Tasse says. She says her husband grew up in Canada and speaks highly of its government-run system. She ticks off numbers from her own life. “I was paying $940 per month for healthcare while making $2,400 per month. It’s crazy. We’re getting robbed.”
Annie Bissett, an artist who lives in Providence, also backed scrapping private insurance. ‘I don’t think insurance should be about big companies making a profit,” she says. “It should be about getting people healthcare.”
The Rhode Island primary is a bit more than nine months away. It’ll be held April 28, 2020. The next Democratic primary debate is July 30 and 31 in Detroit.