The Slatest

Barack Obama Endorses “Medicare for All”

Obama smiles while walking onto a stage.
Barack Obama at the University of Illinois on Friday.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

One of the biggest ideas animating the left wing of the Democratic Party’s progress in primary elections this year is “Medicare for All.” It’s an ambiguous term that is used to refer to policies that vary in their details, but one thing it always indicates is that its user supports a health care plan that’s more ambitious than the current federal system, in which the government subsidizes private insurance for individuals who would otherwise have trouble affording it but aren’t eligible for Medicaid or Medicare. Another name for that current system, of course, is Obamacare—and, on Friday, we learned Barack Obama himself also thinks that improving on Obamacare is a good idea. Here’s what the former president said about the subject in a University of Illinois speech that marked the launch of his efforts to campaign for Democrats in the midterm elections:

As you can see, the ex-POTUS didn’t define what he believes Medicare for All to be; it’s still significant, though, that the person who cautiously chose not to propose a directly government-funded universal coverage plan in 2009 is now endorsing the idea of Medicare—a.k.a. government coverage—”for all.” And he followed it up with an approving allusion to Elizabeth Warren’s plan to give workers seats on corporate boards. Everyone’s a socialist these days!