Newly declared presidential candidate Seth Moulton criticized his Democratic competitors Monday for pushing the idea of single-payer health care, citing what he called an imperfect experience at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“I think I’m the only candidate who actually gets single-payer health care,” the Massachusetts congressman said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” He qualified his statement by adding that, like his 18 opponents in the 2020 primary, “I think health care is a right. I think every American should have access to good affordable health care.”
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But the Iraq War veteran said his experience with single-payer health care made him hesitant to back any plan that would boot Americans off of their private insurance plans.
“I made a commitment to continue getting my own health care at the VA when I was elected to Congress. That’s single-payer, and I’ll tell you — it’s not perfect,” he said. “ So if I’m elected, I’m not going to force you off your private health care plan.”
The question of whether the U.S. should eliminate private insurers during any transition to a universal health care model has sparked a divide among Democrats running for president, and created an opening for Republicans to label the party as proponents of socialism. While some Democrats have embraced the idea of democratic socialism, more moderate Democrats have tried to shirk that label — which the GOP and President Donald Trump have sought to wield against the party in the 2020 elections — just as Moulton did Monday.
“I’m not a socialist. I’m a Democrat. And I want to make that clear,” he said, taking a shot at the leftward bent of the Democratic field. “And maybe that’s a differentiator for me in this race.”
Moulton is not new to clashing with his party. He’s made a name for himself crusading against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership of the party, most recently mounting an unsuccessful push to oust her as the caucus leader after last November’s midterm elections.
Moulton launched his bid to unseat Trump on Monday, looking to make a splash in a packed primary field by championing issues like defense and national security that he dinged his party for shying away from.
The three-term congressman is the third Massachusetts politician to enter the race, joining Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the Democratic side and former Gov. Bill Weld on the Republican side.