Seema Verma, the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, tweeted out a Halloween message bashing the public optio — a healthcare reform plan that's gained popularity among Democrats and even a substantial number of Republicans.
In a tweet on Thursday, Verma posted an image of a person wearing a red T-shirt with the words "Public Option NOW!" emblazoned across the center and said: "This year's scariest costume is extra sneaky. But we know that a government takeover of our healthcare system is still lurking under there."
—Administrator Seema Verma (@SeemaCMS) October 31, 2019
Last year, Verma similarly tweeted out another T-shirt with "Medicare for All" written on it and derided it as "this year's scariest Halloween costume."
Verma previously expressed her opposition to the public option. She penned a Washington Post op-ed column in July arguing the proposal is "a Trojan horse" towards universal healthcare and unfair to healthcare providers as it would impose low costs on them.
"Simply calling something moderate doesn't make it so," Verma said. "Whether conceived as an expansion of Medicare or the creation of a government health-care option, the public option is a Trojan horse with single-payer hiding inside."
In recent months, the public option has gained popularity among the public as Democrats wrestle over the most effective way to reform the nation's healthcare system in the primary. That route would create a government-run health plan similar to Medicare that Americans could buy into.
A poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation earlier this month found backing for the public option steadily inching upward to 73% among the public, an eight-point swing from 65% in July. Broken down among partisan lines, 85% of Democrats and 58% of Republicans favor the plan. 74% of independents do as well.
Proponents argue the public option would compete with private insurers and provide a potent mechanism to drive down exorbitant healthcare costs.
And support for Medicare for All — which would create a single-payer universal healthcare system — has slumped from 59% among voters in March according to a tracking poll from Kaiser as concerns over middle-class tax increases and abolishing private insurance increasingly weighed on voters. But its boosters contend that the system will reduce people's healthcare expenses in the long run.
President Donald Trump has blasted Medicare for All as a government takeover of the nation's healthcare system. Earlier this month at a healthcare speech in Florida, Trump drew no distinctions between the reform plans that Democratic presidential candidates are pushing forward and lumped it all together as the "same terrible idea," NPR reported.
"Every major Democrat in Washington has backed a massive government health care takeover that would totally obliterate Medicare," Trump said. "These Democratic policy proposals … may go by different names, whether it's single payer or the so-called public option, but they're all based on the totally same terrible idea: They want to raid Medicare to fund a thing called socialism."
Healthcare reform has been at the center of the Democratic primary with candidates proposing reforms ranging from shoring up the Affordable Care Act to creating a public option to a complete overhaul of American healthcare. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are Medicare for All's staunchest supporters, while the moderate wing of the primary candidates call for more incremental changes.