Don’t ever let anyone tell you that activism is ineffective. On Monday, two more senators hopped on the single payer bandwagon — bringing the total number of Democratic senators who have announced their intention to co-sponsor Senator Bernie Sanders’ Medicare-for-all bill to seven.
Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Jeff Merkley of Oregon declared their support for Sanders’ single payer bill, which will be introduced on Wednesday, after mounting pressure from voters to embrace the health care solution. Support for single payer is at an all-time high, according to the Pew Research Center 33% of the public favors a single payer system where the government covers insurance costs.
Booker and Merkley join some of the Democratic party’s most visible voices in backing Medicare-for-all. Senator Kamala Harris of California and Senator Elizabeth Warren were early sponsors of Sanders’ bill. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, and Senator Brain Schatz of Hawaii followed.
Echoing what has becoming a rallying for single payer during the GOP’s failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, both Booker and Merkley emphasized that health care should be a right rather than a privilege.
“You should not be punished because you are working-class or poor and be denied health care. I think health care should be a right to all,” Booker told NJTV. “Obamacare was a first step in advancing this country, but I won’t rest until every American has a basic security that comes with having access to affordable health care.”
Balls in your court: literally every other Democratic senator who would rather not seem moderate or possibly get primaried. There’s still time for the party’s leadership to get behind Sanders’ bill before it’s introduced — I’m looking at you, Chuck.
Update, 12:35 a.m: The number of senators who support Sanders’ single payer health care bill has risen to eight, excluding Sanders himself. Senator Kristin Gillibrand of New York announced her support of the bill on Monday evening.