Medicare for All divides 2020 Democrats, but ObamaCare still popular with voters

In the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, health care has emerged as one of the most important — and divisive — issues as Democratic candidates spar over supporting Medicare for All versus building on the Obama-era Affordable Care Act.

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Progressive and moderate candidates clashed again on Thursday night, during the third Democratic debate in Houston, with Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., teaming up in defense of Medicare for All against frontrunner former Vice President Joe Biden, who has laid out a plan to expand the Affordable Care Act.

“I know [Sen. Warren] says she’s for Bernie,” said Biden, who has painted himself as a stalwart of the 44th president, and the heir to his legacy. “Well, I’m for Barack. I think ObamaCare worked.”

Apparently, most Democratic voters are "for Barack" too: A poll released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that a majority of those polled prefer expanding the ACA, rather than shifting to a single-payer health insurance system.

About 55 percent of respondents said they wanted a presidential candidate to keep the ACA intact, while continuing to work on it, compared to 40 percent of Democratic voters who wanted to repeal the largest legislative achievement of the Obama administration and replace it with Medicare for All.

Still, of those 40 percent, more than half said they would still vote for a candidate who wanted to expand existing coverage under the ACA.

Even as they pushed for a sweeping overhaul of health care in the U.S., Democrats sought to praise Obama's legacy in the White House.

“I want to give credit first to Barack Obama for really bringing us this far,” Warren said, before launching into a defense of Medicare for All. “We would not be here if he had the courage, the talent or the will to see us this far.”

A staggering four in five Americans believes the country is in the midst of a health care affordability crisis, with 42 percent who believe the government is responsible for the state of the industry, according to a study conducted by ValuePenguin. Nearly eight in 10 Americans are concerned about the lack of accessibility to health insurance.