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 JeffriesReparations bill gains steam following death of George Floyd Karen Bass's star rises after leading police reform push The Hill's 12:30 Report: Supreme Court ruling marks big win for abortion rights groups 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 Pelosi70 progressive groups call for next Foreign Affairs chair to reflect 'progressive realism' House to vote next week on ridding Capitol of Confederate statues Eye on gavel, Wasserman Schultz proposes panel on racial inequality in spending 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 JayapalDemocrats fear US already lost COVID-19 battle Progressive lawmakers call for conditions on Israel aid Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill banning federal government use of facial recognition tech | House lawmakers roll out legislation to establish national cyber director | Top federal IT official to step down 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 DoggettGilead sets price for five-day coronavirus treatment at ,120 The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Mark Takano says Congress must extend worker benefits expiring in July; WHO reports record spike in global cases Exclusive investigation on the coronavirus pandemic: Where was Congress? 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.