Health care giants pour money into ad blitz attacking 2020 Democrats’ insurance plans

2020 Democrats may be focusing on the wrong issues

GDP Advisors President Seth Denson on the 2020 Democrats’ stance on health care.

While Democratic presidential candidates campaigned in Iowa this week, a group of drugmakers, insurance companies and private hospitals opposed to Medicare for All — and other insurance plans endorsed by some 2020 hopefuls — began a media blitz pushing against those proposals.

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According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF), whose members include Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and the Federation of American Hospitals, plans to spend more than $200,000 on TV ads this month.

PAHCF also poured hundreds of thousands into funding Facebook and Google ads over the past few months, including ones critical of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ roughly $32 trillion Medicare-for-all plan, but also attacking the more moderate plan unveiled by former Vice President Joe Biden (which essentially builds upon the Affordable Care Act, expanding Medicare but allowing patients to keep their private insurance if they choose).

Roughly half of the ads are running in Iowa, the site of the first nominating election in the Democratic presidential primary (this year’s caucus is scheduled to take place at the beginning of February). A number of ads are also appearing in swing states, including Pennsylvania and Michigan, as well as other early primary states.

“The politicians may call it Medicare for All, Medicare buy-in or the public option, but it means the same thing: We pay more to wait longer for worse care. We can’t afford these one-size-fits-all plans,” one ad says.


Ahead of the election, Democratic candidates remain sharply divided between progressive and moderate platforms, evident in the party rift over whether to support Medicare-for-all — endorsed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sanders — or whether to maintain some type of mixture of private and public health insurance, supported by Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.

Currently, private insurers pay hospitals more than Medicare does for the same services; for some procedures, that can mean up to double what Medicare pays, according to a Congressional Budget Office report. That means some insurers stand to lose money if a more expansive Medicare system is passed by a Democratic president.


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