House Democratic Caucus chairman announces support for 'Medicare for All'

House Democratic Caucus chairman announces support for 'Medicare for All'
© Greg Nash

Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesWords matter, except to Democrats, when it involves impeaching Trump Democrats face key moment on impeachment drive Top House Democrat walks back remarks contradicting Judiciary on impeachment inquiry MORE (D-N.Y.) announced Wednesday that he is cosponsoring "Medicare for All" legislation in the House, giving a boost to the legislation from a high-ranking House Democrat. 

Jeffries is the second-highest-ranking House Democrat to back Medicare for All, after Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), who announced his support in June. 

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But while Luján is looking to leave the House by running for Senate, Jeffries’s backing is important because he is seen as a potential future Speaker of the House once current Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiProgressives call for impeachment inquiry after reported Kavanaugh allegations The promise and peril of offshoring prescription drug pricing Words matter, except to Democrats, when it involves impeaching Trump MORE (D-Calif.) retires. 

Jeffries stressed that the Affordable Care Act must be strengthened and that Democrats must fight GOP efforts to attack it. 

“However, given the enduring nature of our healthcare access and affordability crisis, more must be done,” Jeffries said. 

In addition to backing the full-scale Medicare for All bill from Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalPelosi woos progressives on prescription drug pricing plan Democrats ignore Asian American and Pacific Islander voters at their peril Overnight Health Care: Watchdog details severe trauma suffered by separated children | Judge approves B CVS-Aetna merger | House Dem Caucus chair backs 'Medicare for All' MORE (D-Wash.), Jeffries also announced that he is co-sponsoring more moderate approaches, such as a public option bill known as "Medicare X." 

The top three House Democrats, including Pelosi, have declined to support Medicare for All, instead emphasizing strengthening the Affordable Care Act. 

In another show of support for the progressive wing of the Democratic caucus, Jeffries is cosponsoring a far-reaching bill to lower drug prices from Rep. Lloyd DoggettLloyd Alton DoggettPelosi woos progressives on prescription drug pricing plan House Democratic Caucus chairman announces support for 'Medicare for All' Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment MORE (D-Texas.)

That measure is favored by progressives over the the alternative drug pricing bill that Pelosi’s office is working on and that is expected to be released later this month. 

The Doggett bill would allow the government to strip drug companies of their monopolies if they refused to negotiate a reasonable price with the government, a step some moderate House Democrats view as too drastic. 

Jeffries said Democrats are “united behind the principle of universal access to high quality and affordable healthcare for all.” 

“There are several pathways to achieve this objective, including implementation of a single-payer system or the adoption of a robust public option,” he added.