Healthcare is sure to figure prominently in the debates among candidates running for the Democratic nomination for president in the 2020 election, the first of which will be this Wednesday and Thursday. And long-term care will be part of the mix, reflecting the reality of our country’s growing older-adult population and the increasing concerns related to how to pay for the care they might need.
When the New York Times, in a survey published Sunday, asked 23 Democratic candidates for president, “Should the government require health insurance to cover long-term care, including in nursing homes?” 19 responded, with 12 candidates saying yes, three saying no, three not answering yes or no but addressing the issue and one not answering the question at all.
Let’s break that down.
The 12 candidates answering yes — some only replying yes, and some providing additional insights into their responses — were U.S. senator from Colorado Michael Bennet, U.S. senator from New Jersey Cory Booker, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Julian Castro, former U.S. representative from Maryland John Delaney, U.S. senator from New York Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. senator from California Kamala Harris, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, former U.S. representative from Texas Beto O’Rourke, U.S. representative from Ohio Paul Ryan. independent U.S. senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders (running as a Democrat), U.S. representative from California Eric Swalwell and founder of Venture for America Andrew Yang.
The candidates who provided detail often cited affordability as part of their reasoning. Interestingly, Swalwell cited covering long-term care through insurance as a way to tackle industry workforce shortages.
The three candidates answering that the government should not require health insurance to cover long-term care — again, one only replying no, and the other two providing additional insights into their responses — were Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, U.S. representative from Massachusetts Seth Moulton and author, lecturer and activist Marianne Williamson.
Answering no did not mean that a candidate believed the country should ignore long-term care, however. Bullock, for instance, called for making long-term care “more affordable and accessible,” whereas Mouton said he believed long-term care should be funded through government programs.
The candidates who did not answer yes or no to the long-term care question but did provide insights were South Bend, IN, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, U.S. senator from Minnesota Amy Klobuchar and U.S. senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren. Buttigieg advocated for a “comprehensive, universal insurance program for long-term care,” Klobuchar simply said that Americans should have access to high-quality long-term care, and Warren said that Medicare-for-all would guarantee long-term care and advocated for fighting for Medicaid, “the backbone of our long-term care system” for many.
Joe Biden, former vice president and senator, didn’t answer the survey question.
The New York Times sent the survey to 23 of the — gulp — 25 current candidates. (Joe Sestak, former U.S. representative from Pennsylvania and three-star U.S. Navy admiral, just announced he was running for president on Sunday, so he wasn’t included. Before Sestak, the most recent person to announce his candidacy for president was New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who announced on May 16.) The survey asked candidates their stances on several issues related to the healthcare system, healthcare insurance (including Medicare-for-all) and prescription coverage.
This week’s debates among the candidates for the Democratic nomination are among 12 planned, with the next ones set for July 30 and 31. They will be an important opportunity for us to learn more about the candidates’ views on the provision and financing of home- and community-based services, assisted living and skilled nursing.