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 JeffriesPelosi says House will review Senate coronavirus stimulus package Pelosi says House will draft its own coronavirus funding bill Senate closes in on trillion-dollar coronavirus stimulus bill 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 PelosiAn insecure America and an assertive China The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - House to pass relief bill; Trump moves to get US back to work Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA —US now leads world in known coronavirus cases | Unemployment claims soar by over 3 million | House to vote on stimulus Friday | Ventilator shortage sets off scramble 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 says House will review Senate coronavirus stimulus package Critical supplies shortage hampers hospitals, health providers Washington state lawmakers warn health workers running low on protective gear 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 DoggettTexas lawmakers call for investigation into CDC's handling of released coronavirus patient in San Antonio Ocasio-Cortez knocks Pence: 'Utterly irresponsible to put him in charge of US coronavirus response' Pelosi trashes Trump address: 'He shredded the truth, so I shredded his speech' 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.