Health

Top Democrats Rally Behind Medicare-For-All Bill

| by Robert Fowler
Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of VermontIndependent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont

Nearly a dozen Senate Democrats have announced their support for a single-payer health care bill by Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Recent polling data has indicated a growing number of Democratic voters favor a single-payer system.

On Sept. 12, Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York took to social media to announce her intention to co-sponsor Sanders' "Medicare for All" bill.

"Health care is a right, not a privilege," Gillibrand tweeted. "This week, I'll proudly join Senator [Sanders] to co-sponsor Medicare for All."

Overall, 10 Senate Democrats have publicly backed Sanders' proposal. Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California was the first to sign onto the single-payer legislation.

"It is so much better that people have a meaningful access to affordable health care at every stage of life -- from birth onward," Harris stated during an Oakland town hall-style meeting on Aug. 30, The Mercury News reports. "The alternative is that taxpayers are paying huge amounts of money for them to get health care in the emergency room."

On Sept. 7, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts issued a statement to confirm her support for Sanders' bill.

"Everyone is covered," Warren said of the legislation, according to The Hill. "Nobody goes broke paying a medical bill. Families don't have to bear the costs of heartbreaking medical disasters on their own."

On Sept. 11, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey announced his support for the proposal during an interview.

"You should not be punished because you are working-class or poor and be denied health care," Booker told NJTV News. "I think health care should be a right to all. This is something that's got to happen. Obamacare was a first step in advancing this country, but I won't rest until every American has a basic security that comes with having access to affordable health care."

Sanders' legislation has also drawn support from Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, USA Today reports.

The Medicare for All bill would face a steep climb to passage in a GOP-majority Congress. The ambitious legislation would cost an estimated $1.38 trillion per year and would require eliminating several tax loopholes and raising taxes on the top income earners.

On June 23, a Pew Research Center survey found that 52 percent of Democrats supported a single-payer health care system. In March 2014, only 33 percent of Democrats supported the proposal.

Former Sanders campaign digital organizing director Claire Sandberg believes the pressure will only intensify for Democratic lawmakers to back single-payer.

"The grassroots movement for universal health care will have to push Democratic leaders to not just voice support for Medicare-for-all when the party is in the minority, but also demand that Democrats commit to keep fighting and refuse to back down or water down the proposal when the party is back in power," Sandberg told CNN.

Sources: CNN, The Hill, Kirsten Gillibrand/Twitter, The Mercury News, NJTV NewsPew Research Center, USA Today / Featured Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr / Embedded Images: Senate Democrats/Flickr (2)

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