Remember the ACA? Biden Does, and He’s Sticking To It

The former vice president and present presidential candidate argues that Medicare for all is the wrong way to fix the health care system.

Medicare for all would take too long to implement and would do away with the employer-sponsored health care plans that now cover about 160 million Americans, argues former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden, seeking to secure the Democratic nomination for president for 2020, says that the best way to fix health care is to make the ACA better.

Politico reports this morning that “the plan—which the [Biden] campaign says will cost $750 billion over a decade, to be paid for by reversing some of the Trump administration’s tax cuts—is less transformative” than Medicare for all that other Democratic candidates support and “would effectively do away with private insurance and shift all Americans to government-run health care.”

The Biden campaign says that the plan would help 97% of Americans get health coverage, in part by allowing a public option to compete with private health plans on the ACA exchanges. “Nearly 5 million Americans in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid would get premium-free access to Biden’s new public option, for instance,” Politico reports.

And it could take as long as three years to get Medicare for all passed, if it passes at all, the Biden campaign argues.

Larry Levitt, executive vice president of health policy for the Kaiser Family Foundation, tells Politico that “building on the ACA is the quickest way to get more people insured and improve affordability, while not taking on any powerful health industry group or disrupting coverage for those who already have it.”

On the other hand, says Levitt, improving the ACA little by little would allow “an inefficient and costly health care system [to stay] in place” and the high prices and high deductibles that go with it.