Sanders: Single-payer isn't a litmus test for Dems

Sanders: Single-payer isn't a litmus test for Dems
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersWorld leaders reach agreement on trade deal without United States: report Sanders on Brazile revelations: DNC needs ‘far more transparency’ Sen. Warren sold out the DNC MORE (I-Vt.) said that supporting a single-payer healthcare system shouldn't be a litmus test for Democrats, but that he believed more members of the party will grow to back the policy in the future.

Sanders told The Washington Post that he’s building support for his “Medicare for All” bill, which would institute a single-payer health insurance system.

The former presidential candidate's backing for the policy has raised questions about whether he and his supporters might launch primary challenges against Democrats who do not back a single-payer plan.

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But Sanders told The Post that healthcare, and support for a single-payer system, is just one issue for voters to consider.

“Is this a litmus test? No, you have to look at where candidates are on many issues,” Sanders said. 

“But you’re seeing more and more movement toward ‘Medicare for All.’ When the people are saying we need healthcare for everyone, as more and more Americans come on board, it will become politically possible.”

Sanders did predict that Democrats in the future will likely have to back single-payer healthcare if they want to win elections.

“Could people run? Sure,” Sanders said of Democrats running for office without backing a single-payer system.

“Do I think they can win without supporting single-payer? I’m skeptical. Among the people who consider themselves progressive, who vote in the primaries, there’s clearly movement toward Medicare for All.”

Sanders plans on introducing his bill once the Senate returns from recess. He has been hosting town halls to draw attention to his plans.

The progressive senator said that the “landscape had changed” for single-payer during the GOP’s drawn-out battle to repeal and replace ObamaCare, which failed in the Senate earlier this month.

“People are saying ‘the ACA did some good things, and the Republicans wanted to throw 22 million people off of it,’” Sanders said. “That’s an absurd idea to most people.”

Universal healthcare plans like single-payer have gained traction among more progressive lawmakers, but have not yet earned the support of more moderate Democrats, who remain hesitant about the idea.