Dean Phillips, an upstart challenger to Biden, embraces Medicare for All

As he mounts a long-shot primary challenge to President Biden, Representative Dean Phillips says he’s knowledgeable about US health care policy.

His years of skepticism about adopting a national single-payer health care system are gone. Now Mr. Phillips is embracing the Medicare for All proposal championed in two presidential campaigns by Senator Bernie Sanders, a moderate Democrat from Minnesota, whose former top aide is now advising Mr. Phillips’ campaign.

Mr. Phillips said in an interview Tuesday that he would join as a co-sponsor of a House resolution that would expand Medicare by creating a national health insurance program available to all Americans, a change that will be discussed in the seven-week presidential campaign. Comes. Public polling still does not show significant progress.

Mr Phillips said, I was a good example of someone who was convinced through propaganda that this was a nonsensical leftist notion. it. It really isn’t. And I think that’s part of my migration, if you like, the migration of understanding and due diligence and intellectual curiosity and most importantly, listening to people.,

Adopting the House bill is a low-risk move. With Republicans in control of the chamber, there is little chance it will come to a vote. Even when Representative Nancy Pelosi of California was speaker, Democrats never voted on the Medicare-at-all proposals, which were largely supported by their progressive caucus, because President Biden had threatened such a move. did not support, and centrist Democrats believed it was a bridge too far.

Mr. Phillips, who spoke in the interview by videoconference, identified him from an onscreen profile as a generic Democrat as the party’s best performer in the polls, and argued that his recent developments on health care were an attempt to outwit Mr. Biden. was not. Left.

Instead, he said, he became convinced that expanding Medicare, the government-run insurance program for older people, to cover all Americans would save the federal government money and won support not only from progressives but also from conservatives. Should also attract support from. Former President Donald J. Trump.

This is not a Hail Mary by any means, Mr. Phillips said. This is not an olive branch to progressives. Do you know what it really is? This is an invitation to Trumpers.

Kevin Munoz, a spokesman for Mr. Biden’s campaign, declined to comment about Mr. Phillips.

Mr. Phillips, a businessman who became wealthy by helping run his family’s liquor distilling empire and later helped create a gelato behemoth, is the former board chairman of Allina Health, one of Minnesota’s largest health care systems. She said her faith began to change about 10 years ago, when her 13-year-old daughter Pia was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and she noticed the difference between the haves and the have-nots.

In July 2020, as a first-term Congressman, he adopted a state public option that would allow Americans to buy into Medicaid. Recently, he said, he has been consulting with Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who is the lead sponsor of the House Medicare for All bill, which has the support of more than half of House Democrats.

Mr. Biden has moved the Democratic conversation about health care away from the idea of ​​a single-payer plan, focusing instead on narrow issues like lowering drug costs and improving maternal health.

Leslie Dach, president of the health advocacy group Protect Our Care and a former Obama administration official, said of Mr. Phillips’ switch that it is not a serious proposal in today’s environment. We live in an era where it takes all our energy to protect everything we have from the Republicans in Congress.

Mr. Phillips hasn’t gotten much traction. A poll last month by CNN and the University of New Hampshire found that he had the support of about 10 percent of likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire, the only state where he has a campaign machinery. Mr. Biden’s name will not be on the ballot there, but the same CNN poll found that 65 percent of voters said they would write in in his name.

Mr. Phillips said he expected to do well in New Hampshire before heading to Michigan, where recent polls have shown Mr. Biden’s approval ratings have been boosted by black and Arab American voters who support Israel in the war against Hamas. Reject their support.

But Mr. Phillips offered little in the way of daylight between himself and Mr. Biden on a conflict that has deeply divided Democratic voters. The congressman said he would not call for an immediate ceasefire and that he does not consider Israel an apartheid state, as the left argues.

Yet Mr. Phillips argued that Democrats were so frustrated with Mr. Biden that when given another option, they would take it.

The good news is that 66 percent of the country still doesn’t hate me, Mr. Phillips said, taking a dig at the president’s dismal approval ratings. America has already made up its mind about President Biden and Vice President Harris.

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