As the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries are gearing up for next year’s primary elections, many candidates in the crowded field have promised government-run health care programs. The common political rallying cry is “Medicare for All,” which means that the government will expand its Medicare program to cover all residents.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is one of the primary candidates and has jumped on the “Medicare for All” political platform. But he called his version of the plan, “Medicare for All Who Want It” to attempt to distinguish his health care policy platform from Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and frontrunner and former vice president Joe Biden.
Buttigieg is also on a bus tour in Iowa to drum up support for his presidential campaign and CBS News reporter Ed O’Keefe asked him multiple questions on his version of “Medicare for All.” Buttigieg told O’Keefe that his plan is a “better option” for Americans than those proposed by the other candidates in the primary field. He claimed his policy proposal “means we take a version of Medicare and we make it available for every American.” Buttigieg added that he believed that his plan “will be a better option than any of the private plans out there.”
To distinguish himself from the other candidates in the field, some of whom have allegedly advocated for abolishing private health insurance plans, Buttigieg emphasized that Americans will have the ability to choose their health care plans and it will not be a requirement to join the government-run health care plan. He told O’Keefe that “[t]he most important thing to me is that everybody get care.”
Buttigieg then dodged a question about whether his version of “Medicare for All” will lead to a tax increase for middle-class Americans. He claimed that he could pay for his version of ‘Medicare for All” by raising taxes for the top two-percent of earners, but “conceded, however, that the nation’s tax code needs to be fairer.”
In other words, Buttigieg did not directly answer O’Keefe’s question whether middle-class Americans will see a tax increase and O’Keefe did not challenge him on how raising taxes on the wealthy would be enough to pay for government-run health care programs. O’Keefe also failed to ask whether “Medicare for All” would lead to quality issues in health care choices, which was a key criticism of the Affordable Care Act.
CBS News should ask harder questions of candidates in order to get straight answers from them, so the American public can make a well-informed decision when voting. By not challenging Buttigieg on health care plan specifics, which is an important issue to voters, the news network did not serve the needs of the public.