While the first Democratic Debate highlighted the strengths of fledgling candidates like Julián Castro, whose showing was robust, Senator Elizabeth Warren still managed to come out on top in a very crowded Democratic field. Her biggest winner: Health care.
As contenders Beto O’Rourke and John Delaney dithered about the benefits of private insurance, Warren decimated it.
Warren said that she supports Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All proposal, which would put every American on Medicare and eliminate private plans that offer similar coverage. “I spent a big chunk of my life studying why families go broke, and one of the number one reasons is the cost of healthcare.”
Warren also noted that there are powerful insurance executives and lobbyists who will fight to keep the system as is. For them, preserving America’s dysfunctional reliance on private insurance ultimately helps their bottom line.
“Look at the business model of insurance companies,” said Warren. “It’s to bring in as many dollars as they can in premiums and to pay out as few dollars as possible for your health care. That leaves families with rising premiums, rising co-pays, and fighting with insurance companies to try to get the healthcare that their doctors say that they and their children need. Medicare-for-all solves that problem.”
And in response to critics who claim Medicare-for-All isn’t realistic, Warren’s skepticism is clear.
“There are a lot of politicians who say ‘Oh, it’s not possible, we just can’t do it,’” said Warren. “What they’re really telling you is they just won’t fight for it. Health care is a basic human right, and I will fight for basic human rights.”
When asked if she would put any limits on abortion, Warren said she would make certain that all women had access to “the full range of reproductive healthcare services,” which includes abortion as well as birth control. (Castro, for his part, offered the same sentiment but used the trans-inclusive term “people.”) And she was clear that this is an issue that is becoming increasingly dire.
“It’s not enough for us to expect the courts to protect us,” said Warren. “Forty-seven years ago Roe V. Wade was decided and we’ve all looked to the courts all that time as state after state has undermined Roe, has put in exceptions, has come right to the edge.”
Warren also called gun violence a national health crisis, hinting at the continued reluctance to fund the Centers for Disease Control’s research into this uniquely American crisis.
While Warren arguably received the lion’s share of the speaking time on the debate stage—a charge that is already causing ire among her competitors (or, more specifically, her competitors’ sisters)—she’s used that time to cement her role as one of the most progressive presidential frontrunners in recent history.
“I am in this fight because I believe that we can make our government work,” said Warren, in her closing comments. “Not just for those at the top, we can make it work for everyone.”