John Delaney Wants Everyone Insured. But He Says Medicare for All Is ‘Political Suicide.’

“It’s never going to happen,” the former congressman told VICE News.
January 20, 2020, 9:52pm
Former congressman and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate John Delaney speaks to VICE News at the 2020 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum in Des Moines on Monday, January 20, 2020. (Justin Hayworth/VICE News)​

Watch the 2020 Iowa Brown & Black Forum on Facebook here.

John Delaney wants everyone to have health insurance — but Medicare for All isn’t how he’d get everyone covered.

The former congressman emphasized that he’s for “universal” health care and placed himself alongside Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in supporting coverage for everyone. But his competitors’ Medicare for All plans, Delaney said, are “political suicide.”

“It’s never going to happen,” the former congressman told VICE News Monday at the 2020 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum in Des Moines. “I’m actually for doing things that are going to happen.”

Under his plan, Delaney wouldn’t completely gut the private insurance industry as it currently exists. Nationalizing the entire insurance industry, as Medicare for All plans would do, is not at all what Delaney wants.

“What I think we need to do is create a universal system, give everyone coverage as a right of citizenship — full stop — for free, but then allow people the choice to choose private insurance if they want,” Delaney said. Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg would also let people keep their private insurance, although his public option wouldn’t eliminate premiums and deductibles.

VICE News polling indicates that brown and black voters, in particular, strongly support Medicare for All. Of the participants in our recent poll, 68% of Latino voters and 75% of black voters said it’s extremely important that their candidate supports Medicare for All.

Still, Delaney’s sticking with his approach, which he thinks is more practical.

“180 million Americans have private health insurance,” he said. “70% of them say they like it. I just don’t think we’re going to win any elections telling people they’re going to lose something they like.”

Being practical is kind of Delaney’s thing, but it’s not winning him many supporters. His campaign has been largely self-funded and he’s polling below 1% — even though he was the first in the Democratic field to declare his candidacy in July of 2017. His self-proclaimed “pragmatic idealism” is losing to the more strident progressivism of his opponents.

"Democrats win when we run on real solutions, not impossible promises," Delaney argued at the Democratic debate in July.

To which Sen. Warren’s responded: “I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for.”

The next day, someone had vandalized Delaney’s Wikipedia page to say that Warren’s burn literally killed him.

Cover image: Former congressman and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate John Delaney speaks to VICE News at the 2020 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum in Des Moines on Monday, January 20, 2020. (Justin Hayworth/VICE News)