Supporters of Sanders and a Medicare for All healthcare system have deemed the coming legislation a “litmus test” for Democrats. Though Sanders, in an August interview with the Post, disagreed that the bill would serve as litmus test, he was quick to point out the growing support for a single-payer system, and added: “as more and more Americans come on board, it will become politically possible.”
The litmus test theory could be tested before 2020. Baldwin is up for re-election in Wisconsin in 2018, which makes her announcement that she’s co-sponsoring the bill a “big deal,” said MoveOn.org Washington Director Ben Wikler.
Even Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), whom Bloomberg calls “the Senate’s most conservative Democrat,” told the outlet on Tuesday that he is open to considering single payer. Manchin, like Baldwin, is up for re-election next year.
Despite the widespread support from the public, and now a substantial number of Sanders’ fellow senators, some lawmakers have said they first want to see the bill, while others have overtly declined to support it. Based on what they’ve told Capitol Hill reporters this week, Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ron Wyden (D-Ohio), Bob Casey Jr. (D-Penn.), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) remain undecided.
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Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told Vox‘s Jeff Stein that he prefers a healthcare program that allows people to pick between a government-run program and private insurers, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, claiming “the cost of single payer is enormous,” said she too supports a public option instead of Medicare for All.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)—typically known for his progressive stances—said he’s focusing on his own healthcare bill and will not co-sponsor Sanders’ bill. However, Brown also said in a statement to Politico that he’s “always been supportive of Medicare for All,” implying he may not oppose the legislation once it’s introduced.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who’s sponsoring the “Medicare at 55 Act” with Brown, also said she wants to focus on their bill, while Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) both told The Hill‘s Peter Sullivan on Tuesday that they will not support Sanders’ proposal.
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