Atkins: Big-name Dems back Sanders single-payer plan

September 14, 2017 GMT

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled his Medicare for All bill yesterday amid steadily growing Democratic support for single-payer health care — including from Bay State U.S. Sens Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey — but offered few details about how his plan would be funded.

“Health care for all is not only a moral issue, it is an economic issue,” said the Vermont independent lawmaker, standing with a number of Democratic co-sponsors, including Warren, to unveil the bill.

A growing number of Democrats in both chambers have openly embraced Sanders’ push for a single-payer, government-run health care system, including Massachusetts U.S. Reps. Katherine Clark, Michael Capuano and Jim McGovern, co-sponsors of a House Medicare for All bill introduced by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.

But others are proceeding more cautiously.

U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy, the subject of 2020 presidential speculation, is reviewing the measure, an aide said. U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, who is also the subject of 2020 buzz, supports, “universal health care,” but stopped short of endorsing the Sanders plan.

Moulton backs, “making a public option available, allowing Americans to buy into Medicare early, among other policy solutions to expand access and bring down the cost of health care,” said his spokesman Matt Corridoni.

Some Democrats say pushing Sanders’ plan too strongly could backfire, particularly ahead of the crucial 2018 midterm races.

“It’s way too early in the debate to start making this a litmus test for Democrats,” said Democratic strategist Jim Manley. “People deserve to have a lot more details than what we have seen so far.”

Warren, in an apparent signal to those concerns, said lawmakers can support Sanders’ plan and Obamacare, too.

“We will not back down in our protection of the Affordable Care Act,” Warren said. “We will defend it at every turn, but we will go further. We will go further and we will say in this country everyone, everyone gets a right to basic health care.”

Meanwhile, President Trump endorsed a Republican health care plan introduced by U.S. senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, which would eliminate many Obamacare mandates and subsidies and give states block grants to help individuals defray care costs.