Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) unveiled a Medicare-for-all plan on Wednesday that’s even more expansive than his previous proposal, which emerged as a key flashpoint in the Democratic primary field.
Flanked by members of National Nurses United, a union that backed his 2016 campaign, as well as a number of other Democratic senators, Sanders proposed a new plan that would dramatically expand Medicare while eliminating private healthcare plans.
“Together from coast to coast we’re going to roll up our sleeves, we’re going to to take on the insurance companies, we’re going to take on the drug companies, and we’re going to fulfill… the American dream,” Sanders said at the event after calling access to healthcare “a human right, not a privilege.”
Democrats who hope to beat Sanders for the nomination have felt the need to embrace the plan, even as they’ve sought to make clear it’s just one of the options they’d consider.
Four of Sanders’ 2020 primary rivals are cosponsors of this bill, as they were on his last one: Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Gillibrand appeared with Sanders at the event.
Booker framed it as more of an ultimate ideal than a likely piece of legislation that could become law during a Wednesday morning radio interview.
“Anybody who says…’Medicare for All,’ who’s running for president, the next thing out of their mouth should be talking to people about, in a split Congress, what are you going to actually do in your first year to make healthcare more accessible and affordable,
Warren said last month that there were “a lot of different pathways” to universal coverage that she could support, not just this one.
Medicare for all had been polling well, but in recent months it’s dipped — and in polls that explain that the proposal would eliminate private plans Medicare-for-All is generally underwater. Conversely, Democratic plans backed by some of Sanders’ more moderate rivals, which would allow Americans the option to join Medicare or stay on their own healthcare plans, have polled better with general-election voters. As President Trump has increasingly attacked Democrats for “socialism,” others in the party have grown nervous that this plan could be politically problematic in the general election.
But it remains very popular with a major chunk of the Democratic base — especially the voters already backing Sanders.
National Nurses United co-president Deborah Burger described the bill as “a clear sign that guaranteed care, real healthcare for every resident of this country, not just insurance that tens of millions of people can’t afford, is coming.”