health care

Do you support creating a public option to expand health care, such as allowing people to buy into a state Medicaid program regardless of income?

Yes

Yes, supports a public option

Michael Bennet

U.S. senator, Colorado

Bennet and Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.) introduced the Medicare-X Choice Act to create a public option for health insurance. "In rural communities, limited competition is leaving many Coloradans with fewer choices, and, in some cases, only one high-cost option" Bennet said. "Medicare-X is a plan that begins to fix this problem by giving families and individuals a meaningful and affordable alternative."

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Michael Bennet
Bennet

Joe Biden

Former vice president

“Whether you’re covered through your employer or on your own or not, you should have the choice to buy into a public option plan for Medicare — your choice,” Biden said at a campaign event. “If the insurance company isn’t doing right by you, you should have another choice,” his health-care plan said.

Candidate positions highlighted
Joe Biden
Biden

Cory Booker

U.S. senator, New Jersey

Booker is a co-sponsor of Schatz's State Public Option Act.

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Cory Booker
Booker

Steve Bullock

Governor, Montana

“Yes. I believe that we can increase access and affordability by providing a public option for Americans who want to buy into government insurance, which will also ensure competition in the private market,” Bullock told The Post. “In Montana, we expanded Medicaid and brought coverage to 100,000 people, worked to lower prescription drug costs, and implemented a plan for high risk pools that lowered health care costs for others by 8 to 9%. I can bring that kind of success to the national level.”

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Steve Bullock
Bullock

Pete Buttigieg

Mayor, South Bend, Ind.

The Buttigieg campaign told The Post he supports creating a public option for people to buy into Medicaid regardless of income.

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Pete Buttigieg
Buttigieg

Julian Castro

Former mayor, San Antonio

Castro supports creating a public option to expand health care, he told The Post.

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Julian Castro
Castro

John Delaney

Former U.S. representative, Maryland

“A key component of my universal health-care plan is that everyone is guaranteed coverage, but that we preserve choice and competition in the system,” Delaney told The Post. “There’s certainly some overlap between my approach and various public option bills.”

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John Delaney
Delaney

Bill de Blasio

Mayor, New York City

“I support the State Public Option Act,” de Blasio told The Post.

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Bill de Blasio
de Blasio

Tulsi Gabbard

U.S. representative, Hawaii

"All Americans should have access to affordable healthcare through Medicare or a public option," Gabbard's campaign website said.

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Tulsi Gabbard
Gabbard

Kirsten Gillibrand (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, New York

Gillibrand is no longer running for president. Gillibrand is a co-sponsor of Schatz's State Public Option Act.

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Kirsten Gillibrand
Gillibrand

Kamala D. Harris

U.S. senator, California

Harris is a co-sponsor of Schatz's State Public Option Act.

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Kamala Harris
Harris

John Hickenlooper (Dropped out)

Former governor, Colorado

Hickenlooper is no longer running for president. "As President, [Hickenlooper] is committed to ensure universal coverage by enabling people to buy into a public option such as Medicare," his campaign told The Post. "And would enhance that option to ensure people have a 'medical home' — a place they can turn to consistently for their health needs, with an emphasis on preventive and mental health care."

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John Hickenlooper
Hickenlooper

Jay Inslee (Dropped out)

Governor, Washington state

Inslee is no longer running for president. Inslee, who recently introduced a public option bill in his state, told CNN that health care should move toward universal coverage "like a public option."

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Jay Inslee
Inslee

Amy Klobuchar

U.S. senator, Minnesota

Klobuchar is a co-sponsor of Schatz's State Public Option Act.

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Amy Klobuchar
Klobuchar

Wayne Messam

Mayor, Miramar, Fla.

“My first choice is to have a comprehensive health-care plan to provide affordable health care to most Americans,” Messam told The Post. “Anything that falls short of that goal is not the type of change big enough to solve the problem. I believe health care is a civil right, and rights shouldn’t get parceled out piecemeal.”

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Wayne Messam
Messam

Seth Moulton (Dropped out)

U.S. representative, Massachusetts

Moulton is no longer running for president. “Let’s strengthen the Affordable Care Act by introducing a modern public option, like an updated Medicare (which was designed in 1963), and let it compete with private plans to offer the best care at the lowest price to consumers,” Moulton said in a Facebook post.

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Seth Moulton
Moulton

Beto O'Rourke

Former U.S. representative, Texas

O'Rourke supports creating a public option to expand health care, he told The Post.

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Beto O'Rourke
O'Rourke

Tim Ryan

U.S. representative, Ohio

“There are ways to strengthen Obamacare, such as adding a public option, increasing subsidies to make coverage more affordable or lowering the age eligibility for Medicare,” Ryan said in a Facebook post.

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Tim Ryan
Ryan

Bernie Sanders

U.S. senator, Vermont

“I think that until we manage to pass Medicare-for-all, we should be giving states the tools they need to provide affordable, comprehensive coverage to their residents,” Sanders told The Post.

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Bernie Sanders
Sanders

Joe Sestak

Former U.S. representative, Pennsylvania

Sestak supports creating a public option to expand health care, he told The Post.

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Joe Sestak
Sestak

Eric Swalwell (Dropped out)

U.S. representative, California

Swalwell is no longer running for president. “I support coverage for all, i.e., Medicare for all who want it,” Swalwell told The Post. “This would serve as a public option for any American, operating alongside and competing with private insurance plans, in order to drive prices down for everyone. If you’re sick you should be seen, and if you’re seen you shouldn’t go broke.”

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Eric Swalwell
Swalwell

Elizabeth Warren

U.S. senator, Massachusetts

Warren is a co-sponsor of Schatz's State Public Option Act.

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Elizabeth Warren
Warren

Marianne Williamson

Author

“I’m not opposed to that plan, but because Medicaid is not as comprehensive as Medicare, I’m putting my effort into Medicare-for-all,” Williamson told The Post.

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Marianne Williamson
Williamson

Andrew Yang

Tech entrepreneur

“I agree with the goal of expanding health coverage provided by the government to more people,” Yang told The Post. “While I personally support the expansion of Medicare to cover all Americans, I’d be happy to work with anyone who is trying to achieve the same end goal -- getting health-care costs off of the backs of American businesses and citizens.”

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Andrew Yang
Yang

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Background As it exists now, state Medicaid programs are public health insurance programs for low-income individuals. In our questionnaire, we asked campaigns about a proposal from Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) that would expand Medicaid by authorizing states to offer a buy-in option to anyone who wants the coverage, not just low-income people. Other candidates have also expressed support for creating a public option, such as a Medicare buy-in.

A January 2019 poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found 75 percent of the public favors allowing people who don’t get insurance at work to buy insurance through a state Medicaid program.

How we compiled candidate positions

The Washington Post sent a detailed questionnaire to every Democratic campaign asking whether they support various health-care policies. We organized candidates with similar stances into groups using a combination of those answers, legislative records, action taken in an executive role and other public comments, such as policy discussion on campaign websites, social media posts, interviews, town halls and other news reports. See something that we missed? Let us know.

The page will update to reflect candidates’ positions as they become more clear. We expect candidates to develop more detailed policy positions throughout the campaign, and this page will update as we learn more about their plans. We will also note if candidates change their position on an issue. At initial publication, this page included major candidates who had announced a run for president or an exploratory committee by March 13. The Post will reach out to additional candidates as they enter the race and then include them here.