Sen. Bernie Sanders will introduce a new version of his Medicare for All bill in the Senate today in a renewed push for his key proposal during the 2016 presidential campaign. But while the proposal was derided as on the fringe by his opponents that year, it’s pretty safe to say he won’t have that problem this time around.
Politico reported on Wednesday that Sanders’ bill will be introduced with the support of 14 cosponsors in the Senate, including fellow presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Cory Booker. All four also signed onto Sanders’ 2017 version of the bill.
Harris, perhaps the most enthusiastic cosponsor of the legislation apart from Sanders himself, released a video statement affirming her support for the bill today:
Sanders’ newest iteration of the bill takes a lot from Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s companion bill in the House, the latter of which was much more progressive than Sanders’ original version, and which currently has 107 cosponsors. In the bill introduced today, Politico reports, Sanders has adopted the long-term care provisions of Jayapal’s bill, a key detail that he stopped short of including in earlier legislation.
In a notable change from 2017, Sanders is now proposing to cover long-term care—a move that brings it in line with similar single-payer legislation in the House led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal. Advocates for the disabled criticized Sanders’ previous bill for failing to support long-term care services crucial for those with disabilities.
The rest of the text is, well, pretty much the same thing Sanders has been campaigning on for much of his career. It would mostly eliminate employer-provided insurance and replace it with a government-funded system paid for by higher taxes on the wealthy and fees on banks and finance institutions.
Sanders released an accompanying brief outlining some of the ways such a bill could be financed, which includes income-based premiums paid by employers and households—basically, every business and household contributes a flat percentage of their income to paying for Medicare. The premiums are higher for businesses than for individuals.
That may sound daunting, but Sanders calculates that moving to that model would actually save most Americans money. The brief also mentions raising the estate tax and setting up a wealth tax, an idea suggested by Elizabeth Warren earlier on the campaign trail.
The downside to all of this, of course, is that with the current makeup of the Senate and occupant of the Oval Office, there’s no chance it will get passed. While the 2020 candidates in the Senate are largely on board, Sanders has lost the support of New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a cosponsor on the previous bill, who now says, per AP, that she thinks expanding the ACA and taking a more incremental approach is the better way of getting Americans covered, which is not true. (The other lost cosponsor from 2017 is Sen. Al Franken, who resigned following sexual harassment and assault allegations. His successor, Sen. Tina Smith, did not cosponsor the new bill.)
Still, the support for Sanders’ bill among his peers in the presidential race is a striking departure from 2016, a testament to how far toward progress the left has managed to drag the Democratic Party—and, should any of those candidates win the nomination, perhaps a preview of what the Democratic Party’s mainstream position on healthcare will look like in the future.