The way to beat Donald Trump and the mess he has made of an already off-the-rails Republican Party is not by promising a kinder, gentler alternative to utter chaos. The way for Democrats to return from the political wilderness to which the party was consigned in the 2014 and 2016 elections is with bigger and bolder ideas. And the idea to start with is a single-payer, Medicare-for-All reform of America’s broken health-care system.
Senator Bernie Sanders keeps making the point that there is a growing popular demand for “a plan that responds to the needs of the great majority of the America people,” and adds, “That’s what single payer does.”
Sanders and other progressives recognize the importance of defending what’s good about the Affordable Care Act in the face of constant threats from the Trump administration and its congressional allies, as Democrats have over the past year and a half. But going forward, the party that seeks to replace Trumpism must get to the heart of the matter with proposals for replacing private profiteering with a system that truly recognizes health care as a right.
Democrats have to get a lot more comfortable speaking the language that Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) employed Thursday when she said, “Health care cannot be a luxury that’s only available for the wealthy and well-connected—it is a human right.”
Jayapal used those words to announce the formation of the House Medicare for All Caucus. Chaired by Representatives Jayapal, Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), and strongly supported by key figures such as Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairs Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Mark Pocan (D-WI), the caucus will take the lead in arguing for HR 676, a Medicare for All measure sponsored by Ellison.
Ellison’s bill has already attracted 122 House co-sponsors—two-thirds of House Democrats—and the caucus will seek to expand those numbers. But it will do a lot more than that. The development of the caucus raises the profile of the fight for health-care reform not just in Congress but nationally.
“Every day more Americans are rallying behind the need for fundamental reform of our flawed and fragmented health-care system that denies care to millions of our neighbors and family members,” says National Nurses United co-president Deborah Burger, RN. “With polls showing increasing support for Medicare for All, and new signs every day of a system that is out of control, the formation of this Congressional caucus could not be more timely. Nurses see patients every day who are harmed by a system in crisis, and we know that the solution is within our reach.”