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

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work