Becerra Has Lengthy Backed Single-Payer. That Doesn’t Imply It Will Occur if He’s HHS Secretary.

“Becerra helps Bernie’s authorities takeover of your well being care, eliminating your employer-provided protection.”

— TV advert funded by Cotton for Senate, Feb. 22

This story was produced in partnership with PolitiFact. It may be republished totally free.

A digital advert operating in Georgia and New Hampshire says Xavier Becerra, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Well being and Human Companies secretary, helps “Medicare for All.”

“Becerra helps Bernie’s authorities takeover of your well being care, eliminating your employer-provided protection,” the narrator says.

The advert, funded by the marketing campaign PAC of Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), is a part of a blitz from conservative teams towards Becerra’s affirmation. It first aired final week and can proceed till the Senate’s affirmation vote. The gritty, foreboding advert features a vary of different assaults, together with criticisms of California’s covid-19 response and Becerra’s position in authorized circumstances on reproductive rights.

One other advert, this one funded by Heritage Motion for America and airing within the Washington, D.C., market, makes use of related speaking factors, together with Becerra’s assist for “government-run well being care.”

Becerra underwent two Senate hearings final week through which he confronted questions on his assist for Medicare for All.

“Your long-standing assist for single-payer, government-run well being care appears hostile to our present system from my perspective,” Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) mentioned throughout Wednesday’s Senate Finance Committee listening to. “What assurances are you able to give to People who at the moment have personal insurance coverage, together with by Medicare Benefit, and are happy with their insurance coverage supplier that they won’t lose their protection sooner or later to some type of Medicare for All strategy or federal takeover of well being care?”

Becerra responded that he was requested to serve on the pleasure of Biden, who has made it clear he desires to construct on the Reasonably priced Care Act. “That shall be my mission,” he mentioned.

Since a vote on Becerra’s nomination might occur this week, we thought it was vital to verify the declare from this advert and provides context to what energy HHS secretaries even have.

We reached out to Cotton’s press workforce to ask for proof to assist the advert however didn’t hear again. The advert does cite a December New York Occasions article with the headline “Becerra Helps ‘Medicare for All’ and Might Assist States Get There” to again up the declare.

Noah Weinrich, press secretary for Heritage Motion for America, did present proof of Becerra’s assist for Medicare for All. Weinrich despatched clips of press interviews, in addition to hyperlinks to Home of Representatives Medicare for All payments that Becerra co-sponsored over his years in Congress.

The place Becerra and Biden Stand on Well being Care

Xavier Becerra was elected as a Democrat to characterize a Los Angeles district within the U.S. Home in 1993. He stayed in Congress 24 years. He resigned in 2017 to just accept the place of lawyer basic of California, which was provided to him by then-Gov. Jerry Brown.

As lawyer basic, Becerra introduced greater than 100 authorized challenges towards the Trump administration for numerous well being, environmental and immigration points. One in all his best-known lawsuits was in assist of the Reasonably priced Care Act. California took the lead with 18 different states in arguing towards overturning the legislation earlier than the U.S. Supreme Courtroom. That call is anticipated by the tip of June.

Since Becerra was first elected to Congress, he has been an advocate for single-payer, or common, well being protection. One of these protection can take many varieties, however by most definitions, it means the federal authorities would have some position in funding and administering medical health insurance for the general public.

“I do, as I mentioned earlier than, be a part of my colleagues who assist the single-payer plan,” Becerra said during a congressional hearing in 1994. “For me, significant well being care reform implies that we should have common protection. We should have portability. We should have selection of supplier.”

Extra not too long ago, this strategy took on the moniker of Medicare for All, in reference to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) well being care invoice with the identical identify. Sanders’ invoice, first launched in 2017, was designed to get rid of personal medical health insurance after phasing in government-run well being care, funded by elevating taxes.

In 2017, Becerra mentioned he would “completely” assist Sanders’ invoice. “I’ve been a supporter of Medicare for All for the 24 years that I used to be in Congress,” Becerra mentioned throughout a Fox Information interview. “This yr, as lawyer basic, I might struggle for that if we had a possibility to place that ahead within the state of California, as a result of I feel what we do is we give those that certainty that they’re going to have the ability to entry a physician or a hospital.”

And in 2019, Becerra instructed KHN’s Samantha Younger he’s “been a single-payer advocate all my life.”

Reviewing Becerra’s statements, it’s clear he does assist Medicare for All or related plans.

However, if confirmed as head of the Division of Well being and Human Companies, Becerra shall be a member of Biden’s Cupboard, and the president dictates coverage priorities. Through the Democratic presidential primaries, Biden was unwavering in his opposition to Medicare for All, as a substitute throwing his assist behind implementing a public choice well being plan and increasing the ACA. A public choice is a government-run medical health insurance plan that may exist beside personal medical health insurance protection as a selection within the ACA market.

It’s additionally vital to notice that whereas the advert says Becerra helps Medicare for All, thus “eliminating your employer-provided protection,” that doesn’t imply your medical health insurance can be eradicated. Fairly, it will get replaced by government-run medical health insurance.

“The notion that by having Medicare for All you’re going to lose insurance coverage protection is weird,” mentioned Mark A. Peterson, a professor of public coverage, political science and legislation at UCLA. “The entire level of Medicare for All is that everybody has medical health insurance.”

What an HHS Secretary Can Truly Do

Since Biden doesn’t assist Medicare for All, would Becerra’s stance actually matter?

No, mentioned Joseph Antos, a well being care scholar on the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute.

“He will be unable to, on this position, push the chief department or the Congress on this course in any perceptible approach,” mentioned Antos. “About all he might actually do is use the waiver course of and loosen up the varied restrictions that the Trump administration tried to impose on states within the Medicaid applications. However that’s not the identical factor as single-payer.”

Antos was referring to waivers that states can ask for with a purpose to change how they administer the ACA exchanges or Medicaid.

Larry Levitt, govt vice chairman for well being coverage at KFF, mentioned it actually is feasible Becerra may very well be known as upon to think about state waiver proposals to implement single-payer programs. (KHN is an editorially unbiased program of KFF.)

“He would possible look extra favorably on waivers like that than the Trump administration, which was fairly clear they wouldn’t contemplate them. He may additionally view such waivers extra positively than an HHS secretary that has not supported Medicare for All,” Levitt wrote in an e mail. “Nonetheless, Becerra wouldn’t be making selections on state waivers of such consequence unilaterally. He will surely seek the advice of with the White Home.”

Levitt added that it appears unlikely at this level any state might implement a single-payer system. Vermont dropped its efforts to take action after it turned clear how a lot taxes would enhance. California does have vital assist for single-payer, nevertheless it appears unlikely to be realized in that state.

Plus, establishing a nationwide single-payer system would require the assist of each the president and Congress — and neither is ideologically there.

The White Home maintains Becerra can be centered solely on Biden’s priorities and never Medicare for All.

Andrew Bates, a transition spokesperson for Biden, mentioned in an announcement that “Xavier Becerra will assist and work to enact President Biden’s well being care agenda — constructing on the ACA with a public choice — as was made clear instantly after he was chosen.”

However Heritage Motion’s Weinrich took a distinct view: “The HHS secretary holds appreciable policy-making and rule-making energy, and Becerra’s lengthy document signifies he would use that energy to broaden authorities’s position in well being care in any approach he can, with the last word aim of a single-payer choice.”

Rhetoric Round Medicare for All, ‘Radical’ Californians

Within the 2018 and 2020 elections, it was frequent for Republicans to color Democrats as “socialists.” Typically this was illustrated by their assist for Medicare for All or just being from California.

The identical rhetoric is being employed right here, mentioned Peterson.

“That Biden, by bringing in these officers from California, and the truth that Nancy Pelosi is speaker of the Home, they’re arguing it’s simply exhibiting the infiltration of the unconventional socialist California state into the federal authorities,” he mentioned. “However that is ridiculous, as a result of there aren’t socialist politics, per se, taking place in California, and sometimes the California Democrats in Washington are reasonable.”

In the end, although, the aim of an advert like that is to put the groundwork for future campaigns.

“In a Senate that’s cut up 50-50 and that fiftieth Democrat is a conservative Democrat, there’s alternative and leverage for Republicans to try to stand in the way in which,” mentioned Peterson. “The much less efficient the Biden administration might be, the simpler campaigning shall be for Republicans.”

Our Ruling

The advert states, “Becerra helps Bernie’s authorities takeover of your well being care, eliminating your employer-provided protection.”

Becerra’s previous remarks illustrate he does assist Medicare for All or different applications through which the federal government would run and fund medical health insurance.

We charge this declare True.


California Healthline, “With Becerra as HHS Choose, California Plots Extra Progressive Well being Care Agenda,” Dec. 10, 2020

CNBC, “Biden Suggests He Would Veto ‘Medicare for All’ Over Its Worth Tag,” March 10, 2020

CNS Information, “California AG Would ‘Completely’ Help Medicare for All Plan,” Oct. 23, 2017, S.1804 — Medicare for All Act of 2017, accessed Feb. 24, 2021

C-SPAN, HHS Secretary Nominee Xavier Becerra Testifies Earlier than Senate Finance Committee, Feb. 24, 2021

E-mail interview with Larry Levitt, govt vice chairman for well being coverage at KFF, Feb. 23, 2021

E-mail assertion from Andrew Bates, transition spokesperson for Joe Biden, Feb. 23, 2021, Well being Care, accessed Feb. 24, 2021

KHN, “Xavier Becerra in His Personal Phrases: ‘Well being Care Is a Proper,’” Dec. 7, 2020

KHN, “For California Lawyer Common Xavier Becerra, Resistance Is Private,” Feb. 4, 2019

KHN, “What to Know as ACA Heads to Supreme Courtroom — Once more,” Nov. 9, 2020

KHN, “Politicians Hop Aboard ‘Medicare-for-All’ Prepare, Vacation spot Unknown,” Oct. 22, 2018

The New York Occasions, “Biden Picks Xavier Becerra to Lead Well being and Human Companies,” Dec. 6, 2020

The New York Occasions, “Becerra Helps ‘Medicare for All,’ and Might Assist States Get There,” Dec. 10, 2020

Workplace of Lawyer Common of California, Lawyer Common Xavier Becerra, accessed Feb. 24, 2021

Cellphone interview with Anthony Wright, govt director of Well being Entry, Feb. 23 and 24, 2021

Cellphone interview with Mark A. Peterson, professor of public coverage, political science and legislation at UCLA, Feb. 24, 2021

Cellphone interview with Joseph Antos, Wilson H. Taylor Scholar in Well being Care and Retirement Coverage, American Enterprise Institute, Feb. 24, 2021

Politico, “A Trio of Conservative Teams Tries to Torpedo Two Prime Biden Nominees,” Feb. 18, 2021

Twitter, @ddiamond tweet, Dec. 6, 2020, “Senator Cotton Launches Advertisements in Georgia and New Hampshire Focusing on Xavier Becerra,” Feb. 22, 2021

U.S. Home of Representatives Historical past, Artwork & Archives, Becerra, Xavier, accessed Feb. 24, 2021

YouTube, “Becerra Can’t Be Trusted — New Hampshire,” accessed Feb. 24, 2021

YouTube, “Becerra — Not the Proper Alternative,” accessed Feb. 24, 2021

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