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A senior Pelosi aide allegedly tried to stir up opposition to Medicare for All after midterms

The House speaker has not been in favor of a jump to single-payer

Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) senior health policy aide allegedly encouraged policymakers to highlight the flaws and concerns about Medicare for All in what some have interpreted as a subtle attempt to undermine the progressive policy, Politico reported.

Who is responsible? The aide was senior health policy adviser Wendell Primus. At a Nov. 30 meeting held to allow researchers and policymakers to discuss health care ideas, Primus reportedly called Medicare for All efforts an unhelpful distraction to Democrats, and pushed for attendees to scrutinize the policy more.

One attendee told Politico: "It came across as, 'We need this so we can get on with our agenda. Can you help us point out the problems?'"

What does Pelosi say about it? Pelosi spokesman Henry Connelly denied the report.

"Wendell absolutely did not ask for any kind of one-sided analysis of Medicare for All, and anyone who says otherwise wasn't actually listening," Connelly said in a statement. "As Democrats, across the entire spectrum, we believe in legislating based on facts, data and honest analysis."

Pelosi is already on record as a skeptic of Medicare for All, having questioned how the government would fund the program which could cost an estimated $30 trillion over 10 years.

What do Medicare for All advocates say? Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who sponsored a Medicare for All bill in the House, said she will "take it up with our leadership to make sure we're not undermining members' bills."

What does Democratic leadership want? Democratic leaders in Congress are mostly more moderate about health care than the party's presidential candidates and other single-payer health care advocates. They believe the party had some success in the 2018 elections by focusing on protecting coverage for pre-existing conditions and trying to lower drug prices.

From Politico:

Pelosi and her team have fought to keep the focus instead on strengthening Obamacare, which has grown in popularity since the GOP started trying to repeal it in 2017 — a priority that got an unexpected boost last week by the Trump administration's full support for a legal effort to wipe out the health law.
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