Backing for single-payer insurance is growing ahead of the planned introduction on Wednesday of the Medicare for All Act from Senator Bernie Sanders, I-VT.
The latest supporter is Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, reports the Miami Herald. He joins senators Cory Booker,D-NJ; Jeff Merkley, D-OR; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY; Kamala Harris, D-CA, and Elizabeth Warren, D-MA in supporting the bill, which would create a single-payer national health care insurance system.
In a statement on his website, Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, said, “It’s time we had a real conversation about creating a national health plan. That’s why I intend to cosponsor Senator Sanders’ bill. And I’ll continue to explore other ways we can improve health care and lower costs, including adding a publicly operated health insurance option to individual marketplaces, like the one I coauthored with Senators Brown and Franken.”
In January, Whitehouse and senators Sherrod Brown, D-OH, and Al Franken, D-MN, reintroduced legislation to create a public health insurance option that would guarantee American consumers access to an affordable, high-quality plan in every health insurance market in the country. Whitehouse and Brown drafted similar legislation when the Senate was deliberating the Affordable Care Act in 2009.
ThinkProgress reports that while he hasn’t endorsed Sanders’ Medicare for All bill, Sen. Max Baucus, D-MT, has also said that he supports a single-payer system. At Montana State University, he said, “My personal view is we’ve got to start looking at single-payer. I think we should have hearings… We’re getting there. It’s going to happen,” according to the report.
CNN reports that the notion of single-payer health insurance has been steadily gaining support among Democrats and could gain even more cosponsors. The report says, “[t]he House companion bill, from Michigan Rep. John Conyers, has 117 cosponsors, a little more than 60 percent of the entire caucus.”
The report also highlights the changing attitude not just among politicians, but the general public, pointing to a Pew survey from mid-June that “found more than half of Democrats supported such a program. Among liberals, the number jumped to 64 percent. Looking across party lines, the poll found that a third of Americans backed the policy, up 12 points from 2014.”