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Biden Slams ‘Risky’ Medicare for All Plan during AARP Event: ‘Medicare as You Know It Goes Away’

Joe Biden speaks at the “We Decide: 2020 Election Membership Forum” in Columbia, S.C., June 22, 2019. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Former vice president Joe Biden warned the audience gathered at an AARP forum in Iowa on Monday that the Medicare for All plan championed by his more-progressive rivals would fundamentally change the quality of health-care coverage they currently receive under Medicare in an unpredictable, “risky” way.

“If you like your health-care plan, your employer-based plan, you can keep it. If you like your private insurance, you can keep it,” Biden said, echoing President Obama’s Affordable Care Act promise, which was named “Lie of the Year” by Politifact in 2013.

Biden released a health-care proposal last week that calls for the creation of a so-called public option that would make a Medicare-like program available to all who want it while providing health-insurance subsidies to more middle-class families that are currently ineligible.

Since releasing the proposal, Biden has sought to highlight the distinctions between his plan, which preserves the private market, and the Medicare for All plan embraced by Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California, and others. Those candidates have admitted that their proposals would all but eliminate the private insurance market, forcing more than 100 million Americans to surrender their private insurance in favor of a Medicare system that will be expanded to cover more than 300 million people.

“Medicare goes away, it’s a new Medicare system,” Biden said. “It may be as good, you may like it as well, it may or may not, but the transition of dropping 300 million people on a totally new plan, I think is a little risky at this point.”

The comments came during a campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa, on the first day of a three-day tour through the state.

On Monday, Sanders pushed back against the suggestion that his support for Medicare for All represents an abandonment of the values underlying Obama’s signature legislation, pointing out that Obama himself has praised Medicare for All as a positive next step.

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