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

An Invitation to Sunny Miami. What Could Be Bad?

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

If a billionaire “invites” you somewhere, you’d better go. Or be prepared to suffer the consequences. This past May, hedge fund kingpin Carl Icahn announced in a letter to his New York-based staff of about 50 that he would be moving his business operations to Florida. But the 83-year-old Icahn assured his staffers they had no reason to worry: “My employees have always been very important to the company, so I’d like to invite you all to join me in Miami.” Those who go south, his letter added, would get a $50,000 relocation benefit “once you have established your permanent residence in Florida.” Those who stay put, the letter continued, can file for state unemployment benefits, a $450 weekly maximum that “you can receive for a total of 26 weeks.” What about severance from Icahn Enterprises? The New York Post reported last week that the two dozen employees who have chosen not to uproot their families and follow Icahn to Florida “will be let go without any severance” when the billionaire shutters his New York offices this coming March. Bloomberg currently puts Carl Icahn’s net worth at $20.5 billion.

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