Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Former Vice President Joe Biden explains on MSNBC why he does not support a Medicare for All system, even in the face of a global pandemic.

Former Vice President Joe Biden explains on MSNBC Monday why he does not support a Medicare for All system, even in the face of a global pandemic. (Image: MSNBC/screenshot)

As Coronavirus Exposes Deep Flaws of For-Profit System, Biden Doubles Down on Opposition to Medicare for All

"This is a losing politics."

Eoin Higgins

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. 

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," noted Dig 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," tweeted The 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."

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.

As CNBC reported:

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


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Fears of Escalation as Ukraine Answers Russian Missile Onslaught With Strike Deep Inside Invader's Territory

Ukrainian drones bombed two air bases more than 300 miles inside Russia, reportedly killing three soldiers, wounding four others, and damaging multiple warplanes.

Brett Wilkins ·


Patient Groups Push Congress to Combat Big Pharma Greed in Spending Bill

"As Congress works toward finalizing an end-of-year budget package, we urge the chambers to include bipartisan legislation to address abuse of the Food and Drug Administration's citizen petition process in order to reduce drug prices and save the government hundreds of millions of dollars."

Brett Wilkins ·


10,000+ Sign Open Letter Demanding Biden Order Paid Sick Leave for Railway Workers

"No one, especially in the world's richest nation, should have to choose between forgoing pay or working through severe illness and family emergencies," says The Lever's letter.

Jessica Corbett ·


Right-Wing SCOTUS Majority Signals Support for Anti-LGBTQ+ Reactionaries

"It does not bode well for the future of civil rights law that Gorsuch believes a state imposes 'reeducation training' on employers when it reminds them how to comply with nondiscrimination rules," said one court observer.

Julia Conley ·


Report Reveals Corporate Capture of Global Biodiversity Efforts Ahead of Summit

"Their 'solutions' are carefully crafted in order to not undermine their business models; ultimately they do nothing for the environment," said one Friends of the Earth campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo