Earlier this month, Kara Eastman beat out her Democratic primary opponent to represent the Omaha, Nebraska, area in the U.S. House of Representatives. She’s also running on an openly Medicare for All platform.
“We must ensure that no mother ever weighs the costs before taking her children to the emergency room when they are in the need of immediate care,” Eastman’s campaign website reads. “No father should ever forgo life-saving medication because he is afraid of being unable to pay the medical bills. No family should ever need to claim bankruptcy because they had the audacity to live after an accident or illness.”
Eastman is just one of a number of Democratic candidates across the country who support a government-run health care system, with candidates in states from Nebraska and Pennsylvania to Illinois, Kentucky, and Texas running campaigns to enshrine health care as a human right. And, as Axios reported on Tuesday, they’re winning.
From the site:
- Gina Ortiz Jones, competing to unseat GOP Rep. Will Hurd in Texas’s 23rd district, “supports a single payer system,” per her campaign website.
- Sean Casten, competing for Rep. Peter Roskam’s seat in Illinois’s 6th district, has an extremely detailed step-by-step health care plan that would “provide a path to Medicare for all, but only provided that Americans – at their discretion – chose to buy into that option.”
- Amy McGrath prevailed in Kentucky’s 6th district, against a DCCC-backed opponent. Although she says “currently proposed single-payer legislation would represent such a sweeping overhaul that it would put our healthcare system into massive upheaval,” she supports allowing people older than 55 to buy into Medicare and creating a public insurance option.
Critics will be quick to point out that winning a Democratic primary is not the same thing as winning a general election, which is fair. But consider this: In May 2010, six months out from the Tea Party’s massive wave election, President Barack Obama’s approval rating stood at 46%, while his disapproval rating was also 46%. At the same point in this year’s midterm cycle, President Donald Trump’s approval rating stands at 40%, while his disapproval rating stands at 55%, according to Gallup.
Meanwhile, despite much Republican fear-mongering about the horrors of Obamacare, public support for a government-run healthcare system has only grown. According to a recent poll from the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, 53% of Americans support the Affordable Care Act, while over half of Americans—51%—support going further with a nationalized, single payer healthcare system.
Eastman will face off against GOP Representative Don Bacon, who flipped the swing district in 2016, in the general election. It remains to be seen whether Medicare For All can be more than a morally just issue for Democrats to champion, but one that can help them win in November. But with high Democratic enthusiasm for the midterm elections, this is the year to prove that mealy-mouthed centrism isn’t Democrats’ only path to victory.