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Demonstrators hold signs in support of a single-payer healthcare system during a Feb. 2017 event. (Photo: Elvert Barnes/flickr/cc)

With Support Surging, Progressives Push Pelosi on Single-Payer

Pressure on House leadership to advance HR676 comes as legislation reaches new milestone

Andrea Germanos

Seizing upon the now record high support for a Medicare-for-all bill, advocates for such a system are pushing House Minority Leader Nancy Peolosi (D-Calif.) to throw her weight behind the legislation.

The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, HR676, reintroduced in January by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) this week claimed for the first time support from more than half of the Democratic caucus, reaching 104 co-sponsors in Congress.

Pelosi is not among them.

Instead, she appears on a list of 89 House Democrats not supporting Conyers' legislation. Justice Democrats, an advocacy group calling for an overhaul of the Democratic Party, put out on social media this week an infographic highlighting their names:

But the time to act on the legislation is now, said Donna Smith, executive director of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA). In fact, it is "long overdue," she stated Friday.

"Because of my family's harrowing experiences with failures of the American healthcare system, I dedicated myself to fight for healthcare as a human right," added Smith, who was featured in Michael Moore's 2007 documentary Sicko. "Conyers' legislation is the best hope for Americans, like my own family, who are facing bankruptcy or death if we or a loved one suffers even just one serious accident or illness."

Given the stakes, PDA and its allies say members of Congress, and especially the House leadership, must go beyond just opposing TrumpCare, the GOP healthcare bill, and must help advance HR676. As such, PDA members recently sent letters to congressional offices touting the bill as "the best healthcare solution."

The call from PDA bookends a month in which Medicare-for-all advocates held rallies in scores of communities across the nation "to go on the offense and demand a healthcare system that covers everyone and costs less."

Support for just that was evident this week in California, where the state Senate Health Committee advanced a single-payer healthcare bill.

"With today's vote we are closer to being able to say, once and for all, that healthcare is not a privilege, it's a human right," the bill's author, Democratic state Sen. Ricardo Lara, said. "Every family, every child, every senior deserves healthcare that costs less and covers more, and California has a chance to lead the rest of the nation toward universal care," he stated.

According to Dr. Carol Paris, president of Physicians for a National Healthcare Program, "The momentum towards a universal health program is unstoppable."

"Americans of all political stripes are reiterating their long-held support for improved Medicare for all, and Congress has a responsibility to act. We urge all members—including Republicans, whose constituents are demanding a better healthcare system—to come together and finally enact HR.676. Now is the time," Paris said this week.

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