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"Democratic politicians I never thought would utter the words have mentioned single-payer to me in a non-joking way of late," Len Nichols, director of the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics at George Mason University. (Photo: ufcw770/Flickr/cc)

"Democratic politicians I never thought would utter the words have mentioned single-payer to me in a non-joking way of late," Len Nichols, director of the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics at George Mason University. (Photo: ufcw770/Flickr/cc)

Upside of Trumpcare Ugliness: Medicare For All Goes From 'Pie in the Sky' to 'Inevitable'

"I have never seen more enthusiasm and energy behind this issue than what I'm seeing today."

Jake Johnson

As Senate Republicans are reportedly set to introduce yet another version of their overwhelmingly despised and "deadly" healthcare plan on Thursday, Medicare for All is experiencing an unprecedented surge in support from both the grassroots and elected officials.

"People say Medicare for All is 'politically unfeasible. But the past ten years have taught us that it's politically unfeasible to aim for anything less."
—Richard Eskow, Campaign for America's Future
Recent polls have indicated that most Americans favor something like the healthcare plan Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) proposed during his 2016 presidential campaign, despite the fact that his ideas were repeatedly denounced as "unrealistic" and "pie-in-the-sky" by politicians and major news outlets like the Washington Post.

Some notable polls include:

  • A Gallup survey from May of last year, which found that 58 percent of the public favors replacing Obamacare with "a federally funded healthcare program providing insurance for all Americans."
  • An Economist/YouGov poll (pdf) from April of this year, which found that most Americans favor "expanding Medicare to provide health insurance to every American."
  • A Pew survey published just last month found that 60 percent of Americans believe "it is the federal government's responsibility to make sure all Americans have healthcare coverage."

These numbers have been seized upon by progressive groups across the country as they mobilize to ensure the death of Trumpcare, the latest Senate version of which would strip health insurance from an estimated 22 million Americans. Organizations like Our Revolution have argued that while resisting efforts to repeal Obamacare, it is crucial to articulate an inspiring and ambitious alternative.

"Healthcare is a right, not a privilege," the group stated ahead of a recent nationwide day of action. "Our country needs single-payer, Medicare for All that leaves no one out."

At the behest of the grassroots, Democratic politicians are increasingly warming to the idea as well.

As Common Dreams has reported, Rep. John Conyers' (D-Mich.) Medicare for All legislation "has now received support from more than half of the Democratic caucus, a record for the party."

"I have been introducing the Medicare for All bill every session of Congress since 2003, and I'm the longest serving member of Congress," Conyers has said. "I have never seen more enthusiasm and energy behind this issue than what I'm seeing today."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has been the most prominent progressive to join the growing chorus in recent weeks. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Warren argued that single-payer is "the next step" urged Democrats to run on the issue in 2018 and 2020.

In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) noted that he is seeing support for Medicare for All even in the most conservative parts of his state.

"I've been asking each audience, I've been saying, 'How many people here 10 years ago would have supported a single-payer Medicare for All?' And it's a small number," Merkley said. "And then I ask, 'How many now?' And the hands just go up throughout the room."

"I have never seen more enthusiasm and energy behind [Medicare for All] than what I'm seeing today."
—Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.)

Commentators have argued that all of these signs—surging poll numbers, grassroots enthusiasm, and support from elected officials—indicate that Medicare for All has rapidly transitioned from "pie-in-the-sky" to "inevitable."

A recent New York Times analysis showed why a single-payer system makes sound economic sense.

And countering those who have in recent years insisted that Medicare for All is "unrealistic" from a political standpoint, Richard Eskow, a senior fellow at Campaign for America's Future, argued that in fact "it's an easy sell: I can save you thousands of dollars a year by replacing a terrible system with a much better one."

"People say Medicare for All is 'politically unfeasible,'" Eskow added. "But the past ten years have taught us that it's politically unfeasible to aim for anything less."


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