Pete Buttigieg on Health Care

Democratic Presidential Challenger; IN Mayor


Deal with coronavirus with international integration

Q: The spread of the coronavirus outside of China has rattled the stock market. If you were president, how would you respond?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, first of all, we've got to meet 21st century security threats with a forward-looking security policy. This president's idea of how to keep us safe is a big wall. That is a 17th century security solution. I would be making sure that we have the coordination across the federal government for something that is a health issue, an economic issue, a security issue, and needs to have an integrated approach. But it's not enough to integrate within the United States. We've got to integrate internationally. The virus does not care what country it is in. And in order to deal with an issue like that, you need international partnerships and global relationships of the very kind that this president is tearing to shreds on an almost daily basis. This is why we need first and foremost, to restore the credibility of the US among the nations of the world.

Source: CNN S. C. Town Hall for 2020 Presidential primary , Feb 26, 2020

Make it OK to publicly talk about mental health struggles

We also have to build up a culture broadly for veterans, yes, but for the country as a whole, where it's OK to talk about mental health struggles before they become deadly. It has got to become as normal and as acceptable to talk about a struggle with depression or bipolar disorder or addiction as it to talk about fighting cancer or having a knee surgery coming up. That's a cultural shift that the president can lead.
Source: CNN Town Hall 2020 with Don Lemon , Feb 24, 2020

Fix healthcare so we don't force it on anybody

Sen. Elizabeth WARREN: We need to get everybody's health care plan out here. Mayor Buttigieg really has a slogan that was thought up by his consultants to paper over a thin version of a plan that would leave millions of people unable to afford their health care. It's not a plan. It's a PowerPoint.

BUTTIGIEG: I don't know if there are any PowerPoints on it, but you can definitely find the document on PeteForAmerica.com. And you'll see that it is a plan that solves the problem, makes sure there is no such thing as an uninsured American, and does it without kicking anybody off the plan that they have. We have a plan that the majority of Americans support. Do you realize how historic that is? There's a powerful American majority ready to undertake the biggest, most progressive reform we've had in health care in 50 years, just so long as we don't force it on anybody. What is wrong with that?

Source: MSNBC's 9th Democrat primary debate, in Las Vegas , Feb 19, 2020

2018: Medicare-for-All; 2020: only for those who want it

Sen. Amy Klobuchar accused Buttigieg of flip-flopping on support for Medicare for All, citing a 2018 tweet in which Buttigieg said he supported it "indubitably" and "affirmatively." Buttigieg does not support the Medicare for All plan proposed by Sanders, but Buttigieg maintains that his plan to offer Medicare as an option in the Affordable Care Act exchanges would put the U.S. on a "glide path" that leads to "a Medicare for All environment."

At the time, Buttigieg was the mayor of South Bend, and not yet a candidate for president. As a candidate, Buttigieg has proposed a more centrist health care proposal than some Democrats. He does not support the Medicare for All plan proposed by Sanders, which would expand Medicare and create a new universal, single-payer health care system in the United States. Rather, Buttigieg is proposing what he calls "Medicare for All Who Want It." It would essentially allow people to buy into Medicare through the Affordable Care Act exchanges.

Source: FactCheck.org on 8th Democrat 2020 primary debate , Feb 8, 2020

Don't command, it should be Medicare for those who want it

There is now a majority ready to act to make sure there is no such thing as an uninsured American and no such thing as an unaffordable prescription. Just so long as we don't command people to accept a public plan if they don't want to. That's the idea of Medicare for All Who Want It.
Source: 8th Democrat 2020 primary debate, St. Anselm College in NH , Feb 7, 2020

Don't command, it should be Medicare for those who want it

There is now a majority ready to act to make sure there is no such thing as an uninsured American and no such thing as an unaffordable prescription. Just so long as we don't command people to accept a public plan if they don't want to. That's the idea of Medicare for All Who Want It.
Source: 8th Democrat 2020 primary debate, St. Anselm College in NH , Feb 7, 2020

Support people facing assisted suicide from terminal illness

Q: A relative of mine was diagnosed with stage IV cancer and struggled with immense pain and loss of dignity for many months. Left without a viable alternative, he committed suicide at home. I have not heard from any candidate their thoughts on death with dignity laws. Where do you balance your religious beliefs with a patient's end-of-life wishes?

BUTTIGIEG: This is a good example of where I don't believe that my interpretation of my religion ought to be imposed on anybody. That's a personal approach. I believe that we need to look at the laws of this country and examine how we can best support people confronting these decisions. There's no easy answers. But I believe nationally we need to assess whether knowing what we now know about pain, about the management of the end-of-life, whether we've got it right or whether there are more steps we can take to make sure that as people are in their last days that they are able to pass away in dignity and in as little pain as possible.

Source: CNN N. H. Town Hall on eve of 2020 N. H. primary , Feb 6, 2020

Individual mandate so no such thing as an uninsured American

Q: You're selling your plan as "Medicare-for-all who want it," yet your plan would automatically enroll uninsured Americans into a public option, even if they don't want it, and force them to pay for it. How is that truth in advertising?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, it's making sure that there is no such thing as an uninsured American. Look, the individual mandate was an important part of the ACA because the system doesn't work if there are free riders. What I'm offering is a choice. You don't have to be in my plan if there's another plan that you would rather keep. And there's no need to kick Americans off the plans that they want in order to deliver health care for all. And my plan is paid for. Everything I've put forward--from "Medicare for all who want it" to the historic investments we're going to make in infrastructure to dealing with climate change--is fully paid for.

Source: 7th Democrat primary debate, on eve of Iowa caucus , Jan 14, 2020

My plan does not cost the most, but isn't small

BUTTIGIEG: It's not true that the plan I'm proposing is small. We've got to move past a mentality that suggests that the bigness of plans only consists of how many trillions of dollars they put through the Treasury. This would be the biggest thing we've done to American health care in a half-century. On prescription drugs, we'll have an out-of-pocket cap, even if you don't get the subsidies that would make it free, a $250 monthly cap.

WARREN: The problem is that plans like the mayor's and like the vice president's is that they are an improvement. But they're a small improvement. And that's why it is that they cost so much less, because by themselves, they're not going to be enough to cover prescriptions for 36 million people who can't afford to get them filled. We can ask those at the very top, the top 1 percent, to pay a little more. When we do that, we have enough money to provide health care for all our people.

Source: 7th Democrat primary debate, on eve of Iowa caucus , Jan 14, 2020

Forced Medicare for All would divide the country

I don't think the American people are wrong when they say that what they want is a choice. I don't understand why the only way to deliver affordable coverage to everybody is to obliterate private plans, kicking 150 million Americans off of their insurance in four short years, when we could achieve that same big bold goal. Why unnecessarily divide this country over healthcare when there's a better way to deliver coverage for all.
Source: October Democratic CNN/NYTimes Primary debate , Oct 15, 2019

Good care for all and affordable prevention for all

Q: What is your plan for reducing HIV contractions among the African American population?

BUTTIGIEG: I propose Medicare for all who want it. But whether you're on that public plan or on a private plan, we require that everyone be treated with equity. That includes not just treatments for HIV, things that can be done to prevent the transmission of HIV. It's why we need a prescription drug plan like the one I'm putting forward that caps the amount that anybody would have to pay.

Source: CNN LGBT Town Hall 2020 , Oct 10, 2019

Trust people to know what health plan is best for them

I trust you to choose what makes the most sense for you. Not my way or the highway. We do have to go far beyond tinkering with the ACA. I propose Medicare for all who want it. We take a version of Medicare, we make it available for the American people, and if we're right, as progressives, that that public alternative is better, then the American people will figure that out.
Source: September Democratic Primary debate in Houston , Sep 12, 2019

Pay more in taxes but less in healthcare premium

Q: Are you willing to raise taxes on middle-class Americans in order to have universal coverage?

BUTTIGIEG: I think you can buy into it. That's the idea of Medicare for All Who Want It. Look, this is a distinction without a difference, whether you're paying the same money in the form of taxes or premiums. In this country, if you don't have health coverage, you're paying too much for care, and if you do have health coverage, you're paying too much for care.

Source: July Democratic Primary debate (first night in Detroit) , Jul 30, 2019

My mother-in-law's life was saved by the ACA

It is time to stop worrying about what the Republicans will say. If we embrace a far-left agenda they're going to say we're a bunch of crazy socialists. If we embrace a conservative agenda, they're going to say we're a bunch of crazy socialists. So let's just stand up for the right policy. I think it's the right answer for people like my mother-in-law whose life was saved by the ACA, but who is still far too vulnerable to the fact that the insurance industry does not care about her.
Source: July Democratic Primary debate (first night in Detroit) , Jul 30, 2019

How do we get to single payer? Need a glide path

I would call it Medicare for all who want it. You make it available on the exchanges, people can buy in. If people like us are right, that will be not only a more inclusive plan, but a more efficient plan, then it will be a very natural glide path to the single-payer environment.

But let's remember, even in countries that have socialized medicine there's still a private sector. It's just that for our primary care, we can't be relying on the tender mercies of the corporate system.

This one is very personal for me. I started out this year dealing with the terminal illness of my father. I make decisions for a living, and nothing could have prepared me for the kind of decisions our family faced. The thing we had going for us was that we never had to make those decisions based on whether it was going to bankrupt our family, because of Medicare. And I want every family to have that same freedom to do what is medically right, not live in financial fear.

Source: June Democratic Primary debate (second night in Miami) , Jun 27, 2019

Cover undocumented immigrants; then we're all healthier

Our country is healthier when everybody is healthier. Remember, we are talking about something people are given a chance to buy into. This is not about a handout. This is an insurance program. And we do ourselves no favors by having 11 million undocumented people in our country be unable to access health care. But, of course, the real problem is we shouldn't have 11 million undocumented people with no pathway to citizenship. It makes no sense.
Source: June Democratic Primary debate (second night in Miami) , Jun 27, 2019

Single payer option can lead to Medicare for all

A single-payer environment is probably the right answer in the long term, but I think any politician who throws around phrases like Medicare for all has to explain how we would get there. What you want to do is you take something like Medicare, you put it on the exchanges as a public option, and if people like me are right that that is both good coverage and more cost efficient, then more and more people will buy in and it will be a very natural glide path towards the single-payer environment.
Source: Fox News Sunday 2019 interviews for 2020 Democratic primary , Mar 19, 2019

Medicare for all who want it: public option

His big idea: Many of the Democrats in the presidential field have endorsed universal government-managed health insurance by expanding to everyone the Medicare programme that provides healthcare for the elderly. Mr Buttigieg didn't go that far on Sunday night, instead opting for what he called "Medicare for all who want it". The way he described it, "you take some flavour of Medicare, you make it available on the exchange as a kind of public option, and you invite people to buy into it".
Source: BBC.com on 2020 Democratic primary contenders at 2019 SXSW , Mar 12, 2019

Public option is step towards universal care

You take some flavor of Medicare, you make it available on the exchange as a kind of public option, and you invite people to buy into it. We've also just got to broaden access to it until everyone has health care. I refuse to accept that when citizens of just about every developed nation in the world enjoy this, that we should settle for less.
Source: CNN Town Hall: back-to-back 2020 presidential hopefuls , Mar 10, 2019

Single rate for healthcare before single payer

Buttigieg says˙he's "all for"˙a single-payer health care system. But he has said he wouldn't immediately jump to single-payer from the current system. Instead, Buttigieg would first implement an˙all-payer rate setting--a system that would not eliminate private insurance companies.
Source: PBS Newshour on 2020 Democratic primary , Feb 15, 2019

His generation not put off by claims of "socialism"

The element of his generation is that it is essentially pragmatic. "Take universal health care. It is very pragmatic to look around and say, well, the countries that do this tend to be better than the countries that don't. The system we have isn't working very well; we ought to try this other system. Politically, it's never been possible, because it's been considered socialism, and socialism was a kill switch. Our generation did not live through the Cold War in the same way."
Source: New Yorker magazine on 2020 Democratic primary , Feb 9, 2019

Gender reassignment surgery is part of health care

Q: Should transgender people in prison have access to gender reassignment surgery?

BUTTIGIEG: Yeah. I believe that's part of health care. We provide health care to people who are incarcerated. The bigger issue is that too many people are incarcerated. We need to treat everybody the same, if you regard this as part of health care. People try to turn others against this around the issue of cost, but the spectacular costs of incarceration have very little to do with things like gender reassignment.

Source: Washington Blade on 2020 Democratic primary , Feb 5, 2019

Single payer can still allow role for private insurance

If the framework we're using is Medicare, a lot of people who have Medicare also have Medicare supplements, Medicare Advantage, something like that. There can be a role for the private sector.

I just don't believe that leaving Americans to the tender mercies of corporations is the best way to organize the health sector in this country. The bottom line is most citizens in most developed countries, enjoy access to this kind of health care and Americans don't. It's wrong.

Source: ABC This Week 2019 interviews for 2020 Democratic primary , Feb 3, 2019

2018: favored single-payer Medicare-for-All

Q [The People's Summit]: Not once have you tweeted support for MFA/SP or #HR676. We checked your handle & every possible hashtag or term.

A: [@PeteButtigieg]: Buh? When/where have you ever heard me oppose Medicare for All?

Q: We never said that you opposed it, but where did you say that you support #SinglePayer?

A: I've been on the record on this one since 2004: [Article in The Harvard Crimson, 3/8/04]: "We could finally see a single-payer health care system that closes the gap between the US and other nations when it comes to medical treatment."

Q: You wrote that article 14 years ago as a student. I don't think you were a politician 14 years ago. Can you affirmatively say that we need #MedicareForAll now and that insurance does not belong in healthcare?

A: Gosh! Okay: I, Pete Buttigieg, politician, do henceforth and forthwith declare, most affirmatively and indubitably, unto the ages, that I do favor Medicare for All, as I do favor any measure that would help get all Americans covered.

Source: Twitter posting on 8th Democrat 2020 primary debate , Feb 18, 2018

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Page last updated: Sep 01, 2021