Bernie Sanders's 'Medicare For All' Bill Is Gaining Momentum

In a surprising twist, Senator Bernie Sanders is picking up endorsements for his health care bill.

Senator Bernie Sanders is set to reveal his "Medicare for All" health care bill on Wednesday, but the former Democratic presidential nominee has already picked up some key endorsements.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Sanders had picked up 11 co-sponsors from Democratic senators. Included in that group are some of the biggest names in the Senate, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Cory Booker, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

The wide-range of co-sponsors means about one-fourth — 11of 48 — of Senate Democrats have now endorsed the bill, a surprising number for a bill that couldn't pick up a single sponsor just two years ago. Many think it could signal single-payer health care becoming the new norm in the Democratic party ahead of the 2018 midterm elections after Sen. Sanders helped invigorate a grassroots liberal movement during the 2016 election.

"You should not be punished because you are working class or poor ...  I think health care should be a right to all," Sen. Booker said on NJTV News. "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."



Vox, long-known for its coverage of left-wing issues, described the recent movement of the party towards supporting Sanders's bill as a "stunning Democratic shift on single-payer." Even Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who is up for re-election in 2018 in Wisconsin — a state President Donald Trump won in 2016 — came out in support of the bill. Her open backing of Medicare for All is a sign that she believes it could help preserve her seat in the Senate in the 2018 election. 

While the finer details of the bill are yet to be revealed, the premise is well-known: it's an expansion of Medicare through an increase in taxes that will provide every American with health insurance through the federal government. As the name insinuates, it is literally a Medicare for All system. 

On top of the senate support, Vox reports that 117 House Democrats have backed the Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act, or HR 676, which was proposed by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). Those 117 House Democrats represent over 60 percent of the caucus. 

Of course, the in Republican controlled congress, this bill has little chance of becoming law. Even notable Democrats like Sen. Tim Kaine and Sen. Sherrod Brown are reluctant to give it their support. 

But the dramatic change of tone could signal something more significant: that a 2020 presidential candidate will have to get behind a Medicare for All bill to win a primary. Sen. Sanders, whose successful campaign in 2016 largely surprised the political establishment, ran on a health care for all platform. Many of the senators who are now coming out in support of his bill are considered top prospects to run for the Democratic party in 2020.

On top of that, public support for single-payer health care is on the rise, too. Sixty percent of Americans now say it is the federal government's responsibility to provide health care, according to Pew polling from June. That's the highest level of support for a single-payer concept in a decade. 

So while Sanders's bill may not become law anytime soon, Senate support for it could be the first sign that Americans are rallying behind the idea that everyone has a right to health care.

Cover photo: Shutterstock / mark reinstein

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