A large group of progressive Democrats in the House of Representatives established a new “Medicare for All” caucus on Thursday morning. This was an important step to eventually move universal healthcare legislation through Congress.
With 70 Democrats joining the formal caucus this sends a message to Republicans — and to Democratic Party leaders like Nancy Pelosi — that they are serious about getting something done, and not just talking about it. The formation of the caucus increases the feasibility of passing legislation and it also gives the policy more staying power because there is strength in numbers.
The new caucus will be co-chaired by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI).
They stated that the caucus is “intended to help build the evidence base for a Medicare for All proposal.” The group held a press conference on Thursday announcing the new caucus and explaining their goals and purposes.
“Our goal is to sponsor briefings in this caucus on a variety of topics from the basics of Medicare for All to financing to universal health care systems around the world,” Jayapal told reporters
“We are united today by a common conviction that healthcare is a human right,” Jayapal added. “That health care must be affordable and accessible to all residents of the United States, and that one of the best ways to ensure healthcare for all is to use the system that already exists for millions of seniors, and that is Medicare.”.
The caucus currently has at least 70 members, including Democrats who are running for leadership positions in the fall, such as progressive Reps. Barbara Lee and Tim Ryan.
But the “Medicare for All” caucus may well grow larger in the near future. There are currently 122 House members — two-thirds of the House’s Democrats—co-sponsoring Medicare for All Bill HR 676
Support for single-payer has grown significantly, both in Congress and among the American people, since Trump’s election.
It is also being supported by possible 2020 presidential candidates Sens. Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren.
All of these prominent senators backed Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All bill in the Senate.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.