As a Rising Rival to Biden, Dean Phillips Supports “Medicare for All”

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The Democratic lawmaker, who has always been moderate, suddenly claims that he was “convinced through propaganda” that the idea of universal health care is “a nonsensical leftist notion.”

In an attempt to unseat President Biden in the primary, Representative Dean Phillips claims to have realized something important about US health care policy.

His long-standing doubts about implementing a federal single-payer health care system are largely gone. The centrist Democrat from Minnesota, Mr. Phillips, is suddenly supporting the “Medicare for all” platform that Senator Bernie Sanders, whose former top assistant is currently consulting Mr. Phillips’s campaign, championed in two presidential runs.

Speaking in an interview on Tuesday, Mr. Phillips announced that, seven weeks into his presidential campaign, which has yet to produce any discernible progress in public polling, he would co-sponsor a House proposal that would expand Medicare by establishing a national health insurance program accessible to all Americans.

“I was a prime example of someone who had been duped into believing it was a ridiculous leftist idea by propaganda,” Mr. Phillips stated. It’s not. It’s not at all. And I believe that’s a component of my migration, if you will, of comprehension, diligence, intellectual curiosity, and—above all—listening to people.

Taking the House bill on board is a low-risk move. There is little likelihood that it will be put to a vote because Republicans dominate the chamber. Democrats never conducted a vote on Medicare for all bills supported by their progressive caucus, even when California Representative Nancy Pelosi was speaker. This was mostly because President Biden opposed the idea and centrist Democrats thought it would go too far.

In the videoconference interview, Mr. Phillips—who identified himself as a “Generic Democrat” on screen, a subtle reference to the party’s top pollster—argued that his recent shift on health care was not an attempt to sidestep Mr. Biden from the left.

Rather, he stated that he has come to believe that making Medicare, the federal government’s insurance program for the elderly, available to all citizens would ultimately result in financial savings for the government and should win over both conservatives and progressives, including supporters of the late President Donald J. Trump.

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