The 2020 Candidates on Healthcare


Where are the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates on the issue of healthcare?

Healthcare was identified by the 2018 midterm voters as one of their most pressing concerns, and is one of the seven issues I covered in my 2020 candidate guides. Many of the readers here at PoliticalCharge asked me to organize the information in those guides by issue, and so, by popular demand, here we are.

In alpha order, here are where the 2020 candidates stand on the issue of healthcare. You can click on the candidate’s names to go their campaign website to learn more.


Michael Bennet

Affordable Healthcare: “On health care, he and Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia recently introduced a bill that would create a public option called Medicare-X; Mr. Bennet said that he wanted “universal coverage” but that his model was “more practical” than the single-payer ones many other Democrats have come to support.” Source 

Medicare for All: “He has specifically criticized “Medicare for all” proposals that would eliminate private insurance.” Source 

Mental Health:Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a cosponsor of the Mental Health Reform Act signed into law in 2016, called for robust funding to fully implement the law and help make America’s mental health system more responsive to the needs of those with mental illness.” Source

Pro-Choice: Planned Parenthood gave Michael Bennet a score of 100% for his voting record. Source 


Joe Biden

Medicare for All: “Mr. Biden has not endorsed “Medicare for all” … His campaign website says he wants to “defend and build upon” the Affordable Care Act.” Source

Pro-Choice: “Mr. Biden supports abortion rights and the Roe v. Wade decision, though he has gone back and forth on abortion in the past and has publicly struggled to reconcile his political positions with his Catholic faith. As recently as 2008, he said he believed life began at conception, though he emphasized that this was a personal view and that he did not think it was appropriate to impose it on others through abortion restrictions.” Source 

Mental Health: “A main pillar of our work has been supporting the needs of service members, veterans, and their families — particularly in the areas of military spouse employment, support for military connected children, and mental health and well-being. By championing partners who support this brave and resilient community and using our platform to raise awareness of the challenges they face, we hope to drive progress in the area of mental health support.” Source 


Cory Booker

Affordable Healthcare: “Senator Booker believes that the ability to access quality, affordable care should not be determined by race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. That’s why Senator Booker worked with Representative Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) to write legislation, the Reducing Disparities Using Care Models and Education (ReDUCE) Act, that would seek to reduce health care disparities by more closely studying contributing factors to illness, evaluating existing programs that deliver health care, and making recommendations to improve care among underserved communities.” Source 

Women’s Health: “Senator Booker is committed to supporting the fundamental rights of women to make their own health care decisions with their doctor. Senator Booker introduced the Access to Birth Control (ABC) Act to ensure that any woman with a valid prescription won’t be denied their medication or intimidated when requesting birth control or emergency contraception at a pharmacy.” Source

Medicare for All: Booker announced his support of the Medicare for All Act in 2017. “I signed up and am a big believer in Medicare for all.” Source 

Mental Health: Booker was a strong supporter of the 21st Century Cures Act, particularly the sections strengthening medical research, access to mental health care, and fighting the opioid epidemic. Source 

Contraceptives: Booker was a primary author of the Access to Birth Control (ABC) Act which “ensures women’s timely access to basic, preventative health care and ensures that women will not be denied birth control or emergency contraception by their pharmacist.” Source 

Pro-Choice: Booker has a 100% voter record on pro-choice issues, per NARAL. Source 


Pete Buttigieg

Accessible Healthcare: “I think conservatives have gotten hung up on this very narrow view of freedom because they’ve forgotten that the government’s not the only thing that can make you unfree. And that’s why I talk about access to healthcare as a source of freedom.” Source

Medicare for All: “As a mayor, my instinct is to really think about how to get something done and not to make the promise unless you have some view of the pathway. You don’t have to have it all figured out, but you have to have a pathway there. … And to me the public option is the way to do it. I’ve been calling it “Medicare for all who want it.” What you’re doing is taking a version of Medicare and you’re putting it out there, and then if people like me are right, then it will be not only a benefit in terms of getting more people covered, but also being more efficient and cost effective than the corporate patchwork system we have today.” Source

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 

Mental Health: “He supports … increased funding of, and access to, mental health and behavioral services.” Source

Legislative Action: “South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has vetoed the rezoning of a property near the site of a proposed abortion clinic. It would have allowed the pro-life Women’s Care Center to set up next door.” Source 


Julian Castro

Affordable Healthcare:  “Millions of Latinos have benefited from the Affordable Care Act.” Source  “We need a better healthcare system in this country. Not a health care system that bends to the will of big pharma or the big insurers…” Source 

Women’s Health:  “We can protect a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her body because for women, reproductive health care is – it is a health and economic issue.” Source 

Medicare for All:  “I believe that it’s time for Medicare for All in the United States of America. There is no reason, that in this wealthiest nation on earth, anybody should go without health care in our country.” Source  “[Castro] indicated he would consider paying for such a system by raising taxes on corporations and on the wealthiest “0.05, 0.5 or 1 percent” of Americans.” Source

Private Insurance:  “Countries around the world that have health insurance for everybody do it in different ways…We can get to a point where, if people want to have a supplemental plan, that they can do that.” Source 

Expanding Medicaid: “San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro told a delegation of San Antonio business and civic leaders at the annual San Antonio to DC trip in Washington, D.C. during early March of 2012 that Governor Rick Perry and the State of Texas should approve the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act of 2010 to uninsured Texans.” Source 

Opioids: “We need to invest the resources and be a strong partner with our states to ensure people have the resources they need to combat the crisis when it comes to treatment, also when it comes to the prevention of abuse.” Source 

Pro-Choice: “He vigorously opposed a Texas law to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and limit facilities and access to abortions in general.” Source


John Delaney

Medicare for All: “Delaney envisions creating a government health care program for all Americans under the age of 65, after which they could enroll in Medicare. The plan would enshrine healthcare as a right for all Americans while still allowing people the choice of buying into the private market. Delaney opposes “Medicare for All,” saying that Medicare works and should be left alone. In Congress, he was a vocal supporter of the Affordable Care Act and was open to adding a public option, as well as expanding Medicare for people over the age of 55.” Source 

Pro-Choice: “Delaney identifies as pro-choice … and voted for legislation to fund organizations like Planned Parenthood.” Source

Prescription Drugs: “The U.S. should approach pharmaceutical prices as companies in the private sector approach buying goods, by using their purchasing power as leverage to negotiate down on costs.” Source

Mental Health: “Delaney released a plan Wednesday morning he said would provide more mental health services to Americans. … Under his plan, the federal government would help pay for more mental health professionals in schools, jails and prisons and increase Medicare reimbursement rates — what doctors are paid to see Medicare recipients.” Source


Kirsten Gillibrand

Affordable Healthcare: “She’s also proposed an expansion of the Basic Health Program, a benefits coverage program for low-income citizens, so that states can offer cheaper insurance to more people. It’s Gillibrand’s aim to make health insurance more affordable and accessible to low-income families.” Source

Medicare for All: “Gillibrand is a proponent of Medicare for All, a form of single-payer health insurance, which would replace private health insurance with a government-run health care system in the U.S.” She continues to say that allowing people to buy into Medicare is the fastest way to extend coverage. Source 

Drug Prices:Gillibrand has actively fought rising drug prices. In February 2019, she and Sen. Sherrod Brown re-introduced the Stop Price Gouging Act, their bill from the 2016 Congress. The legislation would “penalize pharmaceutical companies that engage in price gouging without cause, leading to price spikes for patients who rely on medication to treat diseases ranging from cancer to addiction.” Source

Legislation: “[Gillibrand] helped pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which provides treatment to responders and survivors of the Sept. 11 attacks. Those exposed to the disaster now receive health monitoring and services for 9/11-related health problems until 2090.” Source 

Pro-Choice: “She is committed to protecting and defending women’s access to the full range of reproductive health care services. Her support for reproductive rights has earned her a 100 percent rating from the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, and NARAL: Pro-Choice America.” Source


Kamala Harris

Affordable Healthcare: “There should be nothing partisan about wanting a system where health coverage and care are based not on how much money you have or where you live. We need a system with the goal of good outcomes rather than the goal of high profits. It would save countless lives, and according to recent studies, could trim as much as $5 trillion in health care costs over 10 years.” Source 

Women’s Health: As Attorney General, she sponsored legislation to ensure that crisis pregnancy centers provide women medically accurate information about the full range of reproductive services. Source 

Medicare for All: Kamala Harris announced her intentions to co-sponsor the Medicare for All bill. Source 

Mental Health: Kamala Harris supports ensuring our mental healthcare system receives more funding to provide a higher quality of care and services. Source

Contraceptives: As CA Attorney General, Kamala Harris filed a brief with the Supreme Court arguing that they should overturn the circuit court decision that allowed employers to block their employee’s access to contraceptives. “Under the ACA, all Americans have the right to access affordable, quality healthcare, including contraception. For-profit companies should not be able to deny women access to healthcare based on the religious beliefs of the company’s owners.” Source 

Pro-Choice: Kamala Harris is rated 100% by NARAL, indicating a pro-choice voting record and was endorsed by EMILY’s List in 2016 for pro-choice Democratic women.


John Hickenlooper

Affordable Healthcare: “The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, was just becoming law as Hickenlooper started his first term. He worked with the legislature, where one party controlled each chamber, to create the state’s own exchange. Later in 2013, Hickenlooper opted to expand Medicaid again adding an estimated 160,000 Coloradans to the program.” Source

Healthcare Record: “He also signed into law critical rules that altered the hospital provider fee in Colorado. The law allowed billions of dollars to flow into the state’s rural areas, and helped keep open many rural clinics.” Source

Single Payer: “For instance, he opposed ColoradoCare, a ballot measure that would have created a single-payer health care system.” Source

Medicare for All: Hickenlooper is taking a similar tack in his presidential bid. He wants to build on Obamacare rather than dismantle it, and work to help “private insurers succeed” and provide better coverage. “Instead of battling over Medicare for All or universal coverage, I think the goal of the election is to really say, we all believe in universal coverage.” Source

Mental Health: “Governor Hickenlooper helped create the Colorado State Innovation Model to help integrate physical and mental health and substance use services into primary care settings.” Source 

Pro-Choice: “Hickenlooper is a supporter of abortion rights. … Hickenlooper often likes to talk about his work preventing unwanted pregnancies, especially for teens. In 2014, he celebrated a state initiative to reduce teen birth rates by providing more than 30,000 contraceptive devices at low or no cost, leading to a 40 percent drop in teen pregnancy over five years. The rate continued to drop through 2017.” Source 


Jay Inslee

Affordable Healthcare: “Inslee backed the Affordable Care Act when it was up for a vote during his time in Congress. In 2013, as governor, he expanded Medicaid under the ACA in his state.” Source 

Universal Healthcare: “Recently he introduced a public option health care plan to help stabilize the state’s health insurance exchange. Inslee said it would be an initial step toward creating universal health care in the state.” Source

Opioid Response: In 2016, Inslee launched an initiative to combat the opioid crisis in Washington. The initiative “brings together state agencies, local public health organizations, law enforcement, tribal governments, and other partners to act on opioids. The executive order identifies key aspects of the state’s current opioid response plan that can be implemented immediately as part of a strategic statewide effort to prevent opioid use disorder and overdose deaths.” Source 

Mental Health: “Inslee’s $675 million proposal would fund hundreds of new community mental-health beds and create a partnership with the University of Washington to establish a new teaching hospital focused on behavioral health. It would boost the ranks of mental-health workers, who have been in short supply, and provide long-term housing options to ease the bed shortage.” Source 

Pro-Choice: “On abortion rights, Inslee believes in a woman’s right to choose and opposed the Trump administration’s announcement that it would prohibit taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring women for abortions.” Source 


Amy Klobuchar

Affordable Healthcare: “Now, we all know as I said the day it passed, that the Affordable Care Act was a beginning and not an end. You cannot pass a major piece of legislation like that without making changes over time. … For one, we know that we must bring some certainty to the exchanges, stabilize the market. … Another, it is long past time that we do something about the rising costs of prescription drugs.” Source

Women’s Health: Klobuchar was the lead sponsor of the EARLY Act of 2014, to reauthorize the Young Women’s Breast Health Education and Awareness Requires Learning Young Act of 2009. Source

Drug Prices: “To bring down prescription drug costs, I have introduced multiple pieces of legislation that would expand access to cost-saving generic drugs, deter pharmaceutical companies from blocking cheaper generic alternatives, allow personal importation of more affordable drugs from Canada, and lift the ban that prohibits Medicare from negotiating for the best possible price of prescription drugs on behalf of the 43 million seniors in Medicare Part D.” Source

Medicare for All: Klobuchar sees Medicare-for-All as a “possibility” down the line and thinks pursuing a “public option” could be a more immediate alternative. Klobuchar cited her support for a bill from Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) that would enable states to give all residents the ability to buy into Medicaid. Source

Mental Health: On the Mental Health Parity Act of 2007: “Receiving medical treatment is a life-or-death issue for the 54 million Americans with mental illness. This legislation can relieve unnecessary suffering and even save lives by guaranteeing people fair and equal access to the mental health and chemical dependency treatment they need.” Source

Pro-Choice: Klobuchar has a 100% rating from NARAL, based on her voting record. Source

Opioid Crisis: “I’m also working to combat the opioid crisis and ensure that communities have the resources they need for prevention and treatment. I led three bipartisan bills that were signed into law as part of legislation to address the opioid epidemic in October of 2018.” Source 


Beto O’Rourke

Universal Healthcare: “While Mr. O’Rourke supports universal health care … he hasn’t committed to a specific way to get there. During his Senate campaign, he suggested that universal health care could take the form of a single-payer system or “a dual system,” in which a government-run program would coexist with private insurance.” Source 

Affordability: “He does support expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and has urged Texas to do so. Other points in his 2018 platform included allowing the government to negotiate prescription drug prices with manufacturers and creating incentives for insurers to participate in the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges.” Source

Women’s Health: “During his senate campaign, he was also recorded talking about how the maternal mortality crisis is affecting black women and spoke about the importance of keeping clinic opens so women can receive essential health care.” Source

Mental Health: O’Rourke was an early sponsor of the Veteran Urgent Access to Mental Healthcare Act (H.R.918). It passed the House in 2017. Source 

Pro-Choice: “An abortion-rights supporter, O’Rourke co-sponsored a bill that would have prohibited states from adding any limits to abortions before a fetus is considered viable, and placed no limits on abortions after viability if a doctor concludes the life or health of the mother is at risk. He has voted against efforts to limit abortions to 20 weeks of pregnancy or less.” Source 


Bernie Sanders

Medicare for All: “Sanders proposes a government-run health care system for all Americans. He was the lead Senate sponsor of the 2017 “Medicare For All” bill, which would launch universal health care and end employer-provided health insurance. … Sanders would fund the plan through multiple sources: a 6.2 percent charge on employers, a 2.2 percent fee on most families, increased marginal tax rates for incomes $250,000 and higher, increased taxes on capital gains, and a larger estate tax for the wealthiest.” Source

Pro-Choice: “Sanders is a supporter of abortion rights and voted against a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks. When asked in 2016 if he would place any limits on abortions, Sanders did not give a specific answer but repeatedly said he was “very strongly pro-choice” and believed the decision was between a woman and her doctor.” Source

Prescription Drugs: “The Vermont senator has also joined Democratic leaders in introducing legislation to slash drug costs, in part by encouraging imports of cheaper drugs from abroad and giving Medicare more power to negotiate prices.” Source

Mental Health: “We have a mental health crisis in this country and many mentally ill people are ending up in jail because there is no place else for them to go. And we’ve made a bad situation even worse by cutting back on programs and support systems that mentally ill people need to survive.” Source 


Eric Swalwell

Medicare for All: “Swalwell published an op-ed in support of Medicare for All last month, writing that the policy is “the obvious solution to a health care system that still drives people to financial ruin.” Swalwell also co-sponsored a Medicare for All bill that House Democrats introduced in February. In March, Swalwell told Morning Joe that he supports “coverage for all” but is not in favor of eliminating private insurers, as some of his competitors are.” Source

Women’s Health: “Every woman deserves access to reproductive health services and the ability to make her own decisions about her health. I am fighting for women’s rights and will stand up against legislation that would prevent a woman from making her own healthcare decisions.” Source

Mental Health: Swalwell has led public forums to better understand the issues around mental health crisis prevention. Source 

Pro-Choice: NARAL currently has Swalwell with a score of 100% for his voting record.  Source

Investing in Cures: “The lawmaker also is calling for a “cures in our lifetime” initiative that includes robust spending on medical research by utilizing the latest in advanced technology to find cures for debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cancer. … ‘Innovation has to be a part of the health-care agenda,’ Swalwell said. ‘That will reduce costs, that will extend quality of life, and that would create jobs. I don’t see anyone trying to unify us and reach for that goal.'” Source


Elizabeth Warren

Affordable Healthcare: Warren is one of the authors of the Consumer Health Insurance Protection Act. “The Consumer Health Insurance Protection Act also includes a number of provisions aimed at increasing the affordability of ACA coverage. … These changes will guarantee that every individual on the ACA exchanges has access to a plan that covers 80% of out-of-pocket costs and costs no more than 8.5% of income in premiums.” Source

Single Payer:  Warren believes the next step for healthcare is single payer. “We approach the health care debates from a single perspective: maintaining the financial stability of families confronting illness or injury. The most obvious solution would be universal single-payer health care.” Source

Mental Health: Warren fought for an additional $1B in funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for two of their biggest mental health programs during the 2017 budget cycle. Source

Private Insurance: “So long as private health insurance exists, there is no reason to allow our health care to be held hostage by insurance companies that refuse to do better. Our bill will hold them accountable while significantly improving access to healthcare for millions of Americans.” Source

Pro-Choice: Warren has been a longtime defender of Planned Parenthood. “Do you have any idea what year it is? Did you fall down, hit your head, and think you woke up in the 1950s or the 1890s? Should we call for a doctor? Because I simply cannot believe that in the year 2015, the United States Senate would be spending its time trying to defund women’s health care centers.” Source

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  1. Reblogged this on Bennet Kelley's Clippings & More and commented:
    Political Charge surveys the 2020 Dems on Health Care.

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