Assistant House Speaker Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) on Tuesday announced his support for "Medicare for All" legislation, becoming the highest-ranking Democrat to co-sponsor the bill.
"No individual should ever be denied care or worry about costs when sick. But, for far too many Americans today, that is not the reality," Luján said in a statement.
"Despite the incredible progress we’ve made because of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion, we continue to see Americans crushed by the health insurance industry, and health care remains a right that far too many New Mexicans and far too many Americans struggle to gain," Luján said.
Luján, the No. 4 House Democrat and a close ally of Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiRepublicans caught in California's recall trap Raise the debt limit while starting to fix the budget 'Justice for J6' organizer calls on demonstrators to respect law enforcement MORE (D-Calif.), is running for Senate in 2020.
The idea of Medicare for All is gaining ground among progressive Democrats, and is becoming a major issue on the 2020 campaign trail.
There have been two hearings in the House to date, in the Rules Committee and Budget Committee. A hearing in front of one of the main health care panels, the Ways and Means Committee, has yet to be scheduled, but Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealWant a clean energy future? Look to the tax code Democrats brace for toughest stretch yet with Biden agenda The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - What do Manchin and Sinema want? MORE (D-Mass.) has said he will hold one.
The Energy and Commerce Committee, which also has jurisdiction over health issues, has declined to hold a hearing, illustrating the divide among House Democrats over the legislation.
While Pelosi supports hearings on Medicare for All, she has declined to voice support for the legislation itself and has raised doubts about the bill, including its price tag. She has also noted she wants to build on her signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act.
Still, Pelosi has not outright opposed Medicare for All, saying that different ideas should be on the table.