Politics

Pelosi: Obamacare could be path to 'Medicare for All'

Speaker favors transitional approach to change

WASHINGTON, D.C. - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that the process of improving the Affordable Care Act "may lead to 'Medicare for All,' " suggesting that she could prove amenable to the health care proposal that has become a rallying cry for many progressives.

The comments highlighted the speaker's shifting tone in addressing the relationship between the two plans supported by Democrats.

Pelosi told Bloomberg last month that she was "not a big fan of Medicare for All," citing "its complications" and instead plugged the Affordable Care Act -- spearheaded by President Barack Obama, and crafted with Pelosi's own input during her previous tenure as speaker -- as "the path to health care for all Americans."

Any improvements to the Affordable Care Act are unlikely unless Democrats win full control of Congress, however.

When asked during a CNN town hall Thursday evening about her views on 2020 presidential candidates, such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who support replacing the Affordable Care Act with Medicare for All, Pelosi replied, "I'm not for doing away with Obamacare."

She pointed to the House's role in drafting the landmark 2010 legislation, referencing expanded access and benefits provided as a result of the Affordable Care Act, but she acknowledged that it had room for improvement.

"There are improvements that can be made once you see the implementation of legislation, so I would rather call for health care for all Americans," she said. "As we improve the Affordable Care Act, it may lead to Medicare for All."

Pelosi advocated comparing all health care proposals to determine the best course of action, with the Affordable Care Act serving as a possible blueprint.

"Put it all on the table, see what the benefits are to the consumer, to the patient, and when you do so, then compare it to what other options are," she added. "I think the Affordable Care Act can be a path."

The California Democrat referenced her support for adding a public option, or a government-backed insurance plan, while the Affordable Care Act was being drafted. While Medicare for All would essentially eliminate the private insurance industry, a public option would not.

"But whatever you want to eventually have, I don't think you should do away with the Affordable Care Act to get there," she said.

CNN's Tami Luhby contributed to this report.


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