Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden released his health care plan, which primarily builds on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) while offering a new government-run public insurance option. The new plan includes key differences, though, including allowing Medicare to directly negotiate drug prices, import prescription drugs from abroad, and extend tax credits to help Americans purchase lower-priced health insurance.
However, Biden made clear that his plan is not intended to replace private insurance with a government-run health plan like the Medicare for All plans proposed by his Democratic rivals. “I understand the appeal of Medicare for All,” Biden said in a campaign video, “but folks supporting it should be clear that it means getting rid of Obamacare. And I’m not for that.”
Other Democratic candidates and progressives view anything less than Medicare for All as an incremental compromise. Biden attempted to assuage those fears on a call with reporters, when Biden’s campaign staff emphasized that his plan would help 97% of Americans get access to health care coverage. For example, almost 5 million Americans in states that did not expand Medicaid would gain access to Biden’s proposed public option.
Biden’s campaign staff have also emphasized that abandoning the ACA and starting an entirely new system is not the goal. “We’re starting with the ACA as the base and [are] going to insist on the elements that we sought last time,” said a senior Biden campaign official. “And we’ll get them this time.”