Mar 30, 2020
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, told MSNBC's Yasmin Vossoughian Monday that he did not believe the U.S. needs a single-payer healthcare system, even in the face of the coronavirus outbreak that has already killed over 2,300 people in the country.
"Are you now reconsidering your position when it comes to single-payer healthcare?" asked Vossoughian.
"Single payer will not solve that at all," Biden replied, referring to the strained U.S. healthcare system.
\u201cAfter again complaining that Trump does not listen to the experts, Joe Biden continues to not listen to the experts himself, as well as Democratic primary voters and Bernie Sanders, in still hating Medicare For All in the Corona crisis.\u201d— Andrew Jerell Jones, Luke 1:37 (IG:twdbk3) (@Andrew Jerell Jones, Luke 1:37 (IG:twdbk3)) 1585593960
The former vice president's rejection of Medicare for All in the midst of a global pandemic was not lost on observers.
"The primary voice speaking out against single-payer right now in the middle of an epidemic is Joe Biden," notedDig Left researcher Andrew Perez.
Biden's remaining rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), has made his outspoken support for Medicare for All a central plank of his campaign.
Critics of the former vice president bemoaned his "doubling down" on a position which seemed sure to result in electoral ruin.
"This is a losing politics," tweetedThe Nation literary editor David Marcus. "In almost every state that's held a primary so far, including those Biden has won, exit polls show a majority of Democrats prefer single payer."
The question of whether the U.S. would be better suited to handle the crisis with a Medicare for All system has persisted throughout the coronavirus outbreak, which is expected to get worse and peak in the coming weeks and months. Progressives mourned a California teen who died last week, likely from the coronavirus, after being turned away from a hospital for a lack of insurance and questioned the viability and morality of a healthcare system where something like that could happen during a raging pandemic.
"How can anyone defend this system?" tweeted Claire Sandberg, the Sanders campaign's national organizing director. "Treatment must be free for all."
\u201cThis is absolutely barbaric. The cruelty and absurdity of our for-profit health care system is more obvious in the midst of this crisis than it has ever been. We need Medicare for All. https://t.co/jUsEA1Lp5M\u201d— Bernie Sanders (@Bernie Sanders) 1585355672
In addition to the California teen's death, progressives have cited mass layoffs and unemployment as a reason to transition to a healthcare access arrangement not dependent on one's employer providing health insurance.
The coronavirus pandemic is likely to kick millions of Americans off their health insurance as the disease's economic toll sweeps through the nation.
In the U.S., health insurance is often tied to employment, and nearly 67 million Americans are working in jobs at high risk of layoffs, according to a Federal Reserve estimate. Weekly job losses surpassed three million last week, nearly five times the record from the 2008 recession.
Sanders on Monday at 7pm will host a virtual town hall on the pandemic, he told supporters in an email Monday afternoon. Joining the senator are Dr. Cornel West, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, and Sonia Shah, a science journalist and author of Pandemic: Tracking Contagions from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond.
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