Did Bernie Sanders Turn Democrats Into The Single Payer Health Care Party? by Perry Bacon Jr.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and his call for a government-run health care system are back. On Wednesday, he is laying out a bill that proposes “Medicare for all,” replacing a U.S. health care system dominated by employer-provided insurance — with lots of assorted co-payments and deductibles — to a single-payer approach in which higher taxes fund a system where individuals don’t pay directly for health care. Influential Democratic senators and potential 2020 candidates Cory Booker (New Jersey), Kirsten Gillibrand (New York), Kamala Harris (California), Jeff Merkley (Oregon) and Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts) have embraced the idea.
“Medicare for all” is going absolutely nowhere anytime soon under a Republican-controlled Congress and President Trump. But here’s the big question: Is it going to become one of the central goals of the Democratic Party and a defining feature of the campaign of whichever Democrat is the party’s nominee in 2020? This seems very likely, at least right now, given the political forces pulling Democrats to the left. But I’m not totally sure, mainly because there are some clear political and policy reasons for Democrats to avoid becoming the party of single-payer.