Former President Barack Obama blasted Republicans on Friday for their attempts to dismantle Obamacare and touted “Medicare for all” as evidence Democrats are proposing fresh policy ideas ahead of the midterm elections.
“They’re sabotaging the Affordable Care Act, already cost more than 3 million Americans their health insurance,” Obama said in a wide-ranging speech that also criticized the Trump administration‘s policies. “And if they’re still in power next fall, you better believe they’re coming at it again. They’ve said so.”
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The remarks at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign launched Obama’s midterm campaigning and drew attention to calls for universal health coverage, a cause that has rallied progressives in congressional races and statewide initiatives.
“Democrats aren’t just running on good old ideas like a higher minimum wage, they’re running on new ideas, Medicare for all,” Obama said.
The Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement, has provided coverage to roughly 20 million Americans, mainly through Medicaid expansion and premium subsidies.
The main pillars of Obamacare remain intact despite repeated GOP attempts in Congress to dismantle the health law, and polls have shown increasing levels of support for the statute.
But many Democrats are frustrated by the law’s shortcomings. Premiums have skyrocketed for Obamacare plans and competition has dwindled, while nearly 30 million Americans are still uninsured.
That’s led many Democrats to tout universal coverage on the campaign trail as the solution to fixing the country’s health care system. But they’ve typically provided scant details about what such a system would look like or how it would be financed.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee warned candidates last year about the political liabilities of endorsing “single payer” health care and instead urged candidates to embrace “Medicare for all” to draw connections with the popular seniors’ health program.