Jan 23, 2019

The first big battle over "Medicare for All" is about to begin

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Data: Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll of 1,190 U.S. adults, Jan. 9–14. Margin of error ±3 percentage points; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Democrats’ 2020 primary has begun, and that means the battle to define "Medicare for All" isn’t far behind. The Kaiser Family Foundation's latest polling offers a couple of key data points to help inform that debate.

The big picture: More modest plans are more popular. Every version of expanded public health insurance broke 50% in the Kaiser poll.

  • An optional Medicare buy-in limited to people over 50 — pretty much the most limited idea on the table — was the most popular, at 77% favorability.
  • Full-scale single-payer brought up the rear at 56%.

People are persuadable. A national health plan started out at 56% favorability.

  • When pollsters read people talking points in favor of such a bill — that it would cover everyone, and that it would eliminate insurance premiums — support went higher.
  • But when people heard talking points against the idea — that it would eliminate private insurance or require tax increases — support fell.

One more warning sign for advocates aligned with Sen. Bernie Sanders' sweeping plan: 55% said they believe "Medicare for All" would allow them to keep their existing plans, and a 39% plurality said they didn't think it would affect them very much, for better or worse.

  • Proposals like Sanders' would move everyone into a single plan, which by definition affects everyone. And as we learned with the ACA, selling the public on even a relatively small change can be hard.

What Democrats want: A plurality of Democrats said their top priority is safeguarding the ACA, but "implementing a national Medicare-for-All plan" came in second, tied with reducing drug costs.

  • Republicans and the health care industry will oppose any of the specific proposals floating under the "Medicare for All" banner.

G0 deeper: What "Medicare for All" could look like

Go deeper

Biden formally secures Democratic presidential nomination

Joe Biden speaks at Delaware State University's student cente on June 5. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden became the formal Democratic presidential nominee on Friday evening, per AP.

The big picture: Biden has been the presumptive frontrunner to take on President Trump since Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign in early April.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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Scoop: German foreign minister to travel to Israel with warning on annexation

Heiko Maas. Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is expected to travel to Israel next week to warn that there will be consequences if Israeli leaders move forward with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, Israeli officials and European diplomats tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli and European officials agree that if Israel goes ahead with unilateral annexation, the EU will respond with sanctions.