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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 JeffriesA tearful lesson of 2016: Polls don't matter if people don't vote Overnight Health Care: House Democrats slam pharma CEOs for price hikes driven by revenue, executive bonuses | Ex-FDA employees express worries to Congress over politicization of vaccines | Fauci said his mask stance was 'taken out of context' by Trump Top House Democrat: Parties 'much closer' to a COVID deal 'than we've ever been' 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 PelosiTrump predicts GOP will win the House Hillicon Valley: Five takeaways on new election interference from Iran, Russia | Schumer says briefing on Iranian election interference didn't convince him effort was meant to hurt Trump | Republicans on Senate panel subpoena Facebook, Twitter CEOs | On The Money: Pelosi cites progress, but says COVID-19 relief deal might be post-election | Eviction crisis sparked by pandemic disproportionately hits minorities | Weekly jobless claims fall to 787K 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 JayapalOcasio-Cortez, progressives call on Senate not to confirm lobbyists or executives to future administration posts Pocan won't seek another term as Progressive Caucus co-chair Poll shows Biden leading Trump, tight House race in key Nebraska district 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 DoggettCongress must repeal tax breaks for the wealthy passed in CARES Act Ocasio-Cortez, progressives call on Senate not to confirm lobbyists or executives to future administration posts Trump order on drug prices faces long road to finish line 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.