Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg will begin airing a new television ad in Iowa on Wednesday that takes aim at his Democratic opponents over health care, casting his plan as less restrictive than the “Medicare for All” proposal backed by Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and other Democrats.
The 30-second spot – titled “Your Choice” – heralds Buttigieg’s “Medicare for All Who Want It” plan that would not force people onto government health coverage but instead would offer a public option for people who choose to enroll, a key distinction with the sweeping overhaul that would be instituted under a fully Medicare for All program.
“Providing every single American with quality health insurance isn’t just my plan, it’s our cause,” Buttigieg says straight to the camera. “Now, I go about it in a very different way than my competitors.”
The South Bend, Indiana, mayor goes on to tout how his plan “gives everybody access to Medicare. Everybody. But, if you’re happy with the private insurance you’ve got my plan would let you stick with it – if you want.”
“Now, others say it’s Medicare for All, or nothing,” Buttigieg says, a not-so-subtle nod to Sanders, Warren and other pro-Medicare for All Democrats. “I approve this message to say, the choice should be yours.”
Buttigieg released his own health care plan earlier this month that allows people to opt into a government-backed health insurance option but lets them keep their private insurance plans if they like them.
Buttigieg has long used health care as a way to draw distinctions with other Democrats. He used the third Democratic debate to question Sanders directly about his plan, turning to the senator and asking, “I trust the American people to make the right choice for them. Why don’t you?”
And during his recent four-day trip through Iowa, Buttigieg told audiences that his opponents want Medicare for All “whether you want it or not, and I think we can improve on that.”
But the television ad, part of Buttigieg’s third ad buy in the state, is the clearest sign that the mayor plans to make his diverging health care plan central to his critique of his Democratic opponents.
Buttigieg, in a nod to the popularity among Democratic activists around Medicare for All, has said a single-payer system is a good long-term goal, but that Americans should not be forced to lose their private health insurance in the process.
This is not the first time Buttigieg has put money behind a health care spot. The mayor has also been sponsoring a post on Facebook that says, “Medicare for All Who Want It will create a public alternative, but unlike the Sanders-Elizabeth Warren vision it doesn’t dictate it to the American people and risk further polarizing them.” Another ad simply states, “I trust the American people to make their health care decisions for themselves.”
Buttigieg finds himself in fourth place in Iowa, according to a recent CNN/Des Moines Register poll of Iowa. The mayor is at 9% with likely Democratic caucusgoers, compared to 22% for Warren, 20% for Biden and 11% for Sanders.
Buttigieg’s team received good news in a recent Monmouth survey, where 56% of New Hampshire Democrats and unaffiliated voters likely to participate in the Democratic primary said their preferred approach to health care reform is a public option in addition to private insurance, while 23% said they wanted to replace private insurance with a single public plan like “Medicare for All.”
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that Buttigieg’s ad will air in Iowa on Wednesday.
CNN’s DJ Judd and Tami Luhby contributed to this report.