President Biden’s nominee to serve as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra declined to assure lawmakers on Wednesday that there would be no federal “takeover” of health care if he is confirmed to the post.
Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, said during the hearing that he strongly supports private insurance and allowing consumers to choose coverage that best meets their needs, but he noted Becerra has a “longstanding support for single-payer government-run health care.”
“What assurances can you give to Americans who currently have private insurance, including through Medicare Advantage, and are satisfied with their insurance provider, that they will not lose their coverage in the future to some sort of Medicare for All approach or other federal takeover … of health care?” Crapo asked.
In response, Becerra steered clear of a specific assurance of private insurance and said that his main prerogative will be following through on Biden’s promises, including expanding the Affordable Care Act.
“We will both agree that the most important thing is to give everyone in this country coverage, good coverage, and what I will tell you is I’m here at the pleasure of the president of the United States – he’s made it very clear where he is,” Becerra said. “He wants to build on the Affordable Care Act – that will be my mission to achieve the goals the president Biden put forward.”
Biden has said he is not in favor of a single-payer system.
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Conservatives have raised concerns about Becerra’s track record, including comments made about a potential Medicare for All system.
Becerra said in a 2017 interview with Fox News that he “absolutely” supports Medicare for All and had done so for all 24 years.
“As attorney general, I would fight for that if we had an opportunity to put that forward in the state of California because I think what we do is we give people that certainty that they’re going to be able to access a doctor or a hospital,” Becerra said at the time.
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Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., made similar comments when he lauded Biden’s decision to tap the former California lawmaker, tweeting in December:
.@AGBecerra supported Medicare for all, has stood up to pharmaceutical companies, and can work to give states federal waivers for single payer systems. He is a strong choice and has always worked well with progressives.
If confirmed, Becerra’s position might potentially give him the authority to grant waivers to states to allow them to set up a single-payer system – or expand the public option – via the Affordable Care Act.
However, Becerra is also a proponent of the Affordable Care Act – saying in a June briefing that the system has been “life-changing,” specifically during the pandemic, as reported by The New York Times.
Fox News’ Gillian Turner contributed to this report.