Three candidates in a Democratic congressional primary in Hawaii are taking heat from their opponents for talking to an industry-friendly group, even as public opinion is increasingly rallying to positions opposed by giant health care companies. https://t.co/sbLNOrPlrz— The Intercept (@theintercept) August 2, 2018
While many Democrats contemplate promoting a “Medicare for All” model of health care in the run-up to the midterms, three candidates in Hawaii’s First Congressional District, vying to become their party’s nominee, are taking heat for speaking with a private sector health care lobbying group.
A consultant with the Healthcare Leadership Council sat with three of the six Democratic candidates running in the district — former state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, Hawaii Lt. Gov. Doug Chin, and Honolulu City Council member Ernest Martin — according to reporting from The Intercept.
HLC wrote up dossiers for each candidate they spoke with, detailing how each would be a positive individual to support continuing a market-based approach to health care and drug purchases in America.
Kim is “very pro-market, opposes any attempt at single payer, does not support price controls on pharmaceuticals, and agrees that Medicaid and Medicare need to be managed by the private market,” read the dossier on the former state senator.
The document produced on Chin said that he “supports the market concept advocated by HLC and does not think a single payer/Medicare-for-All approach would work in Hawaii.”
The group also found that Martin “supports a majority of HLC’s positions. He does not want single payer.”
Other candidates running in the primary were quick to condemn their colleagues’ actions.
“Democrats running in a primary election will say they support 'Medicare for All,' but what do they say to lobbyists behind the scenes?” said Kaniela Ing, a state lawmaker running on a democratic socialist-type platform in the race. “We need health care champions, not puppets.”
Indeed, some lobbyist organizations like HLC are fearful that Americans will actually love Medicare for All plans if Democrats run on them. A “Fox and Friends” Twitter poll, in fact, which was probably produced with intentions to highlight how people would hate such a model, backfired when a majority of respondents said they’d support Medicare for All.
Democrats would be wise to support plans that expand access to health care. Committing to plans that rely on the old, and failed, model of privatized care won’t win voters over to the party — Americans overwhelmingly want a Medicare for All system, which would also be cheaper to implement.
Those Democrats who spoke to the lobby group that stands averse to such Medicare for All should explain themselves. Maybe then they’ll discover that they’re on the wrong side of the issue, within their party and within the United States’ popular opinion as well.
Banner/thumbnail image credit: Regis Duvignau/Reuters