OPINION | Sanders will ignite Medicare-for-all movement this fall
© Greg Nash

When Congress returns to work in September, Senator Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersDe Blasio headed to Iowa to speak at political fundraiser Yes, spills happen — but pipelines are still the safest way to move oil Why sexual harassment discussions include lawmakers talking about Bill Clinton’s past MORE (I-Vt.) will introduce one of the most important bills of the year, his proposal to enact a “Medicare-for-all” healthcare system.

While Republicans are gridlocked in their efforts to destroy healthcare for millions of Americans with bills that are disastrously unpopular with voters, the Sanders Medicare-for-all bill will ignite a great debate about one of the most important reforms that Congress will consider in a generation.

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I fully and unequivocally support the Sanders view that good and affordable healthcare should be a right for every American and that the only way to make this happen would be for Congress to pass and a president to sign a Medicare-for-all bill.

 

With the various Republican healthcare plans garnering barely 20 percent from voters on a good day, even lower than the dismal approval ratings for President Trump, the Sanders plan will electrify the liberal base and win substantial support from moderates and political independents.

TrumpCare, RyanCare and McConnellCare have been political disasters for Republicans. They would impose painful economic and healthcare disasters on so many Americans, as demonstrated by reports from the Congressional Budget Office and many leading healthcare policy groups.

By contrast, Medicare is one of the most successful and popular programs in history, and proposals such as the public option almost always garner majority support in polling.

For the immediate future, Republicans should join Democrats in Congress and ignore Trump to pass targeted fixes of ObamaCare to make it work better. For the longer term, Democrats should campaign in the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential election to enact into law a form of the Sanders proposal for Medicare-for-all by 2021 at the latest.

There are good policy and political reasons why single-payer healthcare has been adopted by democratic nations around the world, and why most conservatives join liberals in those democratic nations to keep those systems in place. Because these are good programs, they remain popular programs.

There are sound policy and political reasons why Medicare is one of the most effective and popular programs ever devised, and why the Sanders Medicare-for-all position, which is joined by a long and growing list of Democrats, is the wave of the future for America.

It will be good for America, good for Democrats and good for the future of healthcare when the Sanders plan is formally introduced in September. When the Sanders bill is introduced and its supporters take to the airwaves, the next great debate will escalate with a jarring contrast between the latest version of TrumpCare and the powerful vision of Medicare-for-all offered by Sanders.

Liberals, progressives, reformers and Democrats who support Medicare-for-all will win this debate by a landslide. Voters will prefer the Sanders plan that will guarantee affordable healthcare as a right for all Americans over Republican plans that would lead to tens of millions of Americans losing their health insurance and enduring great hardship under ill-fated and poorly conceived GOP plans.

Even Trump recently told the prime minister of Australia that his nation has a better healthcare system than America. The same could be said about Canada, Britain, France, Germany and the long list of democratic nations around the world that enjoy single-payer healthcare today.

In my opinion, for this reason and others, Sanders would have won a landslide over Trump if he had been nominated by Democrats in 2016 and will win a great victory when his Medicare-for-all bill is introduced in September.

Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), then-chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. in international financial law from the London School of Economics. 


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