Clinton should back Sanders's 'Medicare for all' bill

Clinton should back Sanders's 'Medicare for all' bill
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This week, Senator Bernie SandersBernie SandersSchumer finds unity moment in Supreme Court fight McConnell warns Biden not to 'outsource' Supreme Court pick to 'radical left' Briahna Joy Gray discusses Pelosi's 2022 re-election announcement MORE (I-Vt.) will make history by introducing his "Medicare for all" proposal that will ultimately be a crown jewel in the legacy of the next great Democratic president and a crown jewel in the Sanders legacy of progressive leadership. 

Regarding the Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonLet's 'reimagine' political corruption The Armageddon elections to come Poll: Trump leads 2024 Republican field with DeSantis in distant second MORE book tour, the most consequential question is not the relitigation of the 2016 campaign, but whether Clinton supports Sanders' "Medicare for all" plan. 

Recently, I wrote here that the Sanders Medicare proposal will ignite a profound national debate and a powerful national movement to enact a law creating a health-care system that will truly make health care a right of all Americans.


In recent days, a growing list of prominent Senate Democrats, including several who, like Sanders, are potential candidates for president in 2020, have risen in support of the Sanders proposal. Sen. Kirsten Gillebrand (D-N.Y.), Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerSenate Democrats urge Biden to get beefed-up child tax credit into spending deal Despite Senate setbacks, the fight for voting rights is far from over Small ranchers say Biden letting them get squeezed MORE (D-N.J.), Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Harris10 arrested after Guatemala coordinated with US in raids against migrant smugglers Biden's Supreme Court choice: A political promise, but also a matter of justice Harris discusses pandemic, migration during visit with new Honduran president MORE (D-Calif.) and a growing list of other Democratic senators have joined long-term, single-payer supporter Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDemocrats press cryptomining companies on energy consumption Ocasio-Cortez: Supporting Sinema challenge by someone like Gallego would be easy decision Over 80 lawmakers urge Biden to release memo outlining his authority on student debt cancellation MORE (D-Mass.) to back the Sanders plan.


It is often and, in my view, wrongly stated that Democrats need to do a much better job of telling the nation what they stand for. Of course, a stronger message is always desirable, but first, the 2018 midterms will be a check-and-balance election against the highly unpopular President Trump, and then, most potential Democratic candidates for 2020 are well-positioned to take their case to the nation in presidential politics.

The Sanders "Medicare for all" plan is good politics, history-making policy and a living testament to what distinguishes Democrats from Republicans.

While the hugely unpopular GOP health-care proposals to repeal and replace ObamaCare would cause 20 million or more Americans to lose health insurance, the dramatically more popular Sanders plan would take America closer to the day when 100 percent of Americans could receive quality and affordable health care.

Whatever one thinks of the upcoming Hillary Clinton book tour, the introduction of the Sanders "Medicare for all" legislation will guarantee that Clinton will be asked whether or not she supports the Sanders bill as most, or all, of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates do.

Clinton has historically taken various positions on single-payer healthcare. During the 2016 primaries she unfortunately first said that the single-payer system offered by Sanders would “never ever happen.”

She then evolved into floating a proposal to make Medicare available to citizens between 50 and 55 years old and supporting the public option that was included in the 2016 Democratic platform.

In the coming days, Clinton will either support, oppose or equivocate when asked whether she backs the Sanders bill.  Her answer will have important implications for health care and politics in America and how Clinton is viewed by the huge number of voters who favor "Medicare for all".

Clinton should unequivocally support the Sanders bill. If she does, it will bring together the national leadership of the Democratic Party behind the program that will be a landmark achievement of the next important Democratic president, and it will bring together those who supported Clinton and those who supported Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primaries.

Single-payer health care has been enacted, has succeeded and remains highly popular in democratic nations throughout the world.

Unlike Republicans and conservatives in America, who favor retrograde and rigged health-care systems that are rejected by voters here, conservative leaders and parties throughout the democratic world have embraced single-payer health care that is almost universally supported in their nations.

Clinton was right to support the public option and to raise the possibility of lowering the eligibility age for Medicare.  To fully and unequivocally back the Sanders "Medicare for all" legislation would be the ultimate extension of her health-care position and would undo much of the damage that has been done through her criticism of Sanders in her new book.

Sanders has wisely said that support for single-payer health care should not be a litmus test for Democratic candidates. The fact that so many potential Democratic candidates for president are now supporting the Sanders bill, however, demonstrates both the merit of the bill and the political power of supporting it.

Medicare is one of the most popular and successful programs in American history. Making Medicare available to all will be a legacy moment for the next Democratic president, and Clinton would perform a profound service to our country and the Democratic Party if she lends her full support in the coming days and weeks.

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.