Fact-Checking Pete Buttigieg Before the Nevada Caucuses

“I am all for implementing a single-payer health care system,” Mr. Buttigieg said in January 2019. “I also recognize that along the way to getting there, along the road to Medicare for all, maybe Medicare for more is part of how we make that happen.”

Mr. Buttigieg struck a similar tone early last year, repeatedly saying a public option would create a “natural glide path to a single-payer environment” that he said was the “the right place for us to head as a country.

By May, Mr. Buttigieg’s language on that pathway had become more open ended. He told NPR that if single-payer did not come to fruition and if “corporate alternatives can somehow step it up and be more affordable and more comprehensive and more inclusive than they’ve been, well, that’s not the worst outcome, either.”

Recently, he has described his public option plan as a preferable alternative, rather than transitional phase, to Medicare for all. His approach is “a better governing strategy” that allows consumers “to choose what makes sense for you,” Mr. Buttigieg said in September. Moreover, he argued in October, it is “paid for, unlike the Medicare for all, whether you want it or not, plans that still have this giant question mark over how it’s supposed to work.”

What Mr. Buttigieg said

“Now, what I do know is there are some voices in the Democratic primary right now, who are calling for a policy that would eliminate the job of every single American working at every single insurance company in the country.”
— in an interview on MSNBC in December

This is exaggerated. There’s no question that implementing Medicare for all would drastically transform the health care industry. Eliminating private health insurance and cutting administrative costs — which supporters champion as a major benefit of such a system — would mean widespread job losses. But Mr. Buttigieg goes too far in his prediction that all the claims adjusters, insurance underwriters and brokers in the country would be laid off.

A spokesman for Mr. Buttigieg cited a study from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. It said “only a subset of the jobs” in the health insurance industry and related sectors would be affected by Medicare for all. Out of some 1.6 million workers in these fields, about 834,000 would be displaced, including 369,000 people employed directly by insurance carriers and health and welfare funds.

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