Elizabeth Warren is the latest Senator to officially support Medicare for All

Addy Baird

Addy Baird Think Progress

It’s looking increasingly likely that supporting single-payer health care will be the standard for Democratic lawmakers who want to be considered serious 2020 candidates, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) announced Thursday that she will co-sponsor Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) Medicare for All bill.
 
“There is something fundamentally wrong when one of the richest and most powerful countries on the planet can’t make sure that a person can afford to see a doctor when they’re sick. This isn’t any way to live,” Warren said in an email to supporters Thursday morning announcing her decision.

Warren’s support for the bill is unsurprising, as the progressive senator has expressed support for single-payer health care in the past. In June, she told the Wall Street Journal that Democrats running in 2018 and 2020 should run on a single-payer platform.

“I believe it’s time to take a step back and ask: what is the best way to deliver high quality, low cost health care to all Americans?” Warren’s Thursday announcement said. “Everything should be on the table—and that’s why I’m co-sponsoring Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All bill that will be introduced later this month.”

The Massachusetts senator and progressive darling is the second high-profile senator in as many weeks to announce she will co-sponsor the legislation, after Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) announced her support last Wednesday.

“It’s so much better people have meaningful access to affordable health care at every stage from birth on because the alternative [is] we as taxpayers otherwise are paying huge amounts for money for them to get their health care in an emergency room,” Harris said when she announced her intention to co-sponsor the bill at a town hall last week. “It’s not only about what’s morally and ethically right, it also just makes sense from a fiscal standpoint or a return on investment for taxpayers.”

Warren and Harris have both been floated as potential presidential candidates in 2020. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), another potential candidate, has also expressed support for single-payer, though she has not announced any plans to sponsor legislation.

“Health care should be a right, it should never be a privilege. We should have Medicare for all in this country,” Gillibrand said on CNN in June.

Sanders may also mount another presidential run. In 2016, Sanders challenged former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from the left and ran on a single-payer platform, and the swell of grassroots support Sanders received during the primaries helped opened the door for Warren and others to throw their weight behind a Medicare for All bill.

Warren’s support makes it increasingly clear that support for single-payer will be a litmus test for 2020 candidates on some level, a marked change from the 2016 primary. While Sanders support for Medicare for All was a deviation from the norm during the 2016 election, the stars of the party are now leading the way for Democrats to run on a single-payer platform.

Any 2020 candidate who does not support single payer will have to answer to the trio of popular senators who have thrown their support behind Medicare for All.

Warren and Harris’ announcements come in the wake of several failed attempts by Republicans in Congress to repeal and potentially replace the Affordable Care Act, and Sanders has said he plans to introduce the legislation in the Senate next week, though few details about the plan have been released. 

Though Democratic lawmakers are increasingly throwing their support behind universal health care, the policy details about how they plan to make this transition have so far been relatively thin. One central question for all single-payer plans, for instance, is how they will handle abortion coverage, as the Hyde Amendment currently makes it illegal for federal funding to fund abortions.

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This has been reposted from Think Progress

Addy Baird is a reporter for ThinkProgress on the news cycle team. Previously, she covered local politics and health policy at POLITICO New York and worked for The Charlie Rose Show digital team.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Failing Bridges Hold Public Hostage

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) gave the public just a few hours’ notice before closing a major bridge in March, citing significant safety concerns.

The West Seattle Bridge functioned as an essential component of  the city’s local and regional transportation network, carrying 125,000 travelers a day while serving Seattle’s critical maritime and freight industries. Closing it was a huge blow to the city and its citizens. 

Yet neither Seattle’s struggle with bridge maintenance nor the inconvenience now facing the city’s motorists is unusual. Decades of neglect left bridges across the country crumbling or near collapse, requiring a massive investment to keep traffic flowing safely.

When they opened it in 1984, officials predicted the West Seattle Bridge would last 75 years.

But in 2013, cracks started appearing in the center span’s box girders, the main horizontal support beams below the roadway. These cracks spread 2 feet in a little more than two weeks, prompting the bridge’s closure.

And it’s still at risk of falling.  

The city set up an emergency alert system so those in the “fall zone” could be quickly evacuated if the bridge deteriorates to the point of collapse.

More than one-third of U.S. bridges similarly need repair work or replacement, a reminder of America’s urgent need to invest in long-ignored infrastructure.

Fixing or replacing America’s bridges wouldn’t just keep Americans moving. It would also provide millions of family-supporting jobs for steel and cement workers, while also boosting the building trades and other industries.

With bridges across the country close to failure and millions unemployed, America needs a major infrastructure campaign now more than ever.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work