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Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidates Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) listen as former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the seventh Democratic 2020 presidential debate at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., January 14, 2020. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Democrats revive debate over which kind of health care system is best

It all comes back to health care.

Even after Democratic presidential candidates had an extended foreign policy discussion at Tuesday’s presidential debate in Des Moines, Iowa, they saved the fireworks for another fight over how to expand health insurance coverage.

Former Vice President Joe Biden suggested that Sen. Bernie Sanders wasn’t being “candid” with voters over the cost of his single-payer insurance idea.

Asked if voters deserved more information on the price of his signature proposal, Sanders maintained his argument that his proposal “wouldn’t bankrupt the country” because it would end out-of-pocket and prescription drug prices. Sanders said those more moderate candidates misrepresent a plan he said would indeed increase Americans’ taxes but eliminate the “absurdity” of private insurance costs.

Biden proposes making fixes to the existing Affordable Care Act system, and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg proposes somewhat of a hybrid.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar said “Medicare for All” is so impractical that the “debate isn’t real.” And Buttigieg bristled at the suggestion that adding a “public option” plan to the existing market isn’t a major step forward.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren tried a bit of a twist. She defended single payer, but noted that Republicans want to roll back even existing coverage. “I’ll take our side of the argument any day,” she said of the entire Democratic field.

Noting she would use executive power to cut prescription drug prices, Warren said her $20-plus trillion plan costs more than those ideas because they represent only incremental change.

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