After a September debate that featured 10 candidates, the October presidential debate is set to expand with billionaire Tom Steyer and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard saying they have met the qualifying requirements.
Steyer, the hedge fund manager turned liberal activist, sat down with Rick Newman for Yahoo Finance’s Meet the Candidate series and gave a preview of some of the issues he might bring to the stage.
A key contrast could be over health care: Steyer, who has pushed for Trump to be impeached for two years and is the founder of the super-PAC Need to Impeach, has staked a position against the Medicare for all proposal championed by Sen. Bernie Sanders. “I'm a believer in a government option, not in Medicare for all, because I'm a believer in choice by consumers,” he said.
Steyer described his health care plan as an extension of Medicare as an option. “It would basically be an extension – a public option that you could buy or you would pay for it based on relative income.”
Steyer’s position aligns him with other candidates who have advocated less drastic overhauls to the health care industry. Former Vice President Joe Biden has also pushed for a public option as part of building on the Affordable Care Act. Mayor Pete Buttigieg has a plan called Medicare for All Who Want It.
“The point is if the public option is so great, let people choose it,” Steyer said.
The fourth Democratic Presidential debate will take place in Westerville, Ohio, on Oct. 15. The Democratic National Committee reportedly told the campaigns that it will take place in a single night. It is being hosted by CNN and The New York Times and will be moderated by CNN anchors Anderson Cooper and Erin Burnett, as well as New York Times National Editor Marc Lacey.
The debate may be a moment when Elizabeth Warren is challenged to define her health care position more closely. The candidate known for having a plan for everything notably doesn’t have a health care plan of her own. She has repeatedly expressed support for Medicare for All but has sent mixed signals about her support for the plan’s central plank: completely eliminating private health insurance.
A recent survey found that just 27% of U.S. adults favor eliminating all private health insurance and instituting a Medicare for all system, according to the Commonwealth Fund, while 40% said they need more information. Among Democratic voters, a recent Quinnipiac University National poll found that 49% of Democrats think the best way to handle health care is to replace private health insurance with a Medicare for all system; 44% said keeping the current system and building on Obamacare is the best way approach.
Ben Werschkul is a producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC.