Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi dismissed her party’s calls to pass Medicare for All on Saturday and instead defended the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as the most politically viable health insurance option for Americans.
“No, I do not,” Pelosi replied during an interview with NPR when she was asked if she agreed with many of the Democratic presidential candidates’ demands to implement a single-payer health care system.
“This is complicated to put together health care for as many Americans as possible. Our goal for all of us, including those presidential candidates is to have health care for all Americans — affordable, accessible, quality health care for all Americans,” she continued. “We believe that the path of the Affordable Care Act is the way to go, so I do believe that if you want to have whatever they are calling their plan — Medicare for all, whatever it is — the path to it is the Affordable Care Act.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden stands alone as the sole major presidential candidate to fully endorse the ACA, more commonly referred to as Obamacare. Biden has campaigned on reinstating the individual mandate as a way to guarantee that all Americans receive adequate health care coverage.
Through the mandate, the government would fine any individual who did not obtain sufficient health insurance. As a way to bypass the unconstitutional requirement to force Americans to purchase insurance, the individual mandate was categorized as an income-based tax levy. It was rolled back in 2017 after Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Many of the Democratic presidential candidates, however, have made universal health care plans cornerstones of their campaign platforms, including Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). The plan would notably force roughly 150 million Americans who are currently enrolled in private insurance plans to switch to a government-run program.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) faced widespread blow-back in January after she stated that she feels “very strongly” about fully embracing the single-payer health insurance system and thereby overhauling the entire American health care market. She later walked back her statements and argued that it is more nuanced than she previously illustrated.
However, Harris further stated that she wants a pathway to single-payer, but believes private health insurance should continue to cover people in the interim, which her campaign referred to as “Medicare for more.” Pelosi seemingly echoed a similar position on Saturday.
“I am with you as an advocate,” Pelosi said. “But as a member of Congress needing to get results for the American people, let’s take a path that takes us quickest and best and strongest to affordable care for all Americans.”
“I salute them if that is what they believe, I bless them for that, but that was, I think, not the practical path to get something done,” Pelosi added. “And I can, I say to them all of these issues, single-payer and all that, I have those signs in my basement from 30 years ago.”