Citing his leadership on progressive issues like single-payer healthcare and a willingness to take on powerful corporate interests, National Nurses United (NNU) this week announced its endorsement of Democratic state Sen. Kevin De León in his attempt to unseat longtime incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).
"With escalating attacks on existing healthcare programs, evidenced just today in the disgraceful Trump administration proposed budget cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and other critical safety net programs, we need a fighter in the Senate," said Malinda Markowitz, co-president of NNU and its partner organization, the California Nurses Association. "We know Kevin de León will not only stand up to these attacks, but be a strong advocate for a permanent solution to our broken healthcare system through an improved and expanded Medicare for all."
De León, the president pro tempore of the California state Senate, was instrumental in passing the Healthy California Act (S.B. 562), which called to expand an improved Medicare system to all residents of the state.
De León announced his candidacy in the 2018 Senate race last October, signaling that the fight for Medicare for All would play a major role in his campaign.
"I believe that every family, it doesn't make a difference who you are or where you come from, deserves to have quality healthcare. It is a universal right," De León said at the time. "It's not the exclusive privilege of the elite and the wealthy."
On Monday, the Los Angeles native, who is also a strong advocate of renewable energy and a minimum wage of $15 per hour, tweeted that he was "humbled" by the support of the largest nurses' union in the country.
Humbled to receive the support of the @CalNurses. Until the millions of uninsured Americans & Californians are covered by Medicare-for-All, business as usual just won’t cut it. With the strong backing of CNA, we will continue our work to ensure everyone has access to healthcare. pic.twitter.com/8AM7WW4Rtd— Kevin de Leόn (@kdeleon) February 13, 2018
"Our representatives in Washington, D.C. have wavered on this issue for far too long," De León said in a statement. "Hard-working people throughout the nation are depending on California to bring our fight against dysfunctional establishment politics to the floor of the United States Senate. Now is the time to reject business as usual; the lives of millions of Americans depend on it."
Feinstein has said she does not support a Medicare for All system "at this stage," claiming a universal healthcare system—like those that exist in every other industrialized country, many of which have lower gross domestic products than the U.S.—would be too expensive.
"Californians have enough politicians who claim to favor 'universal coverage' or even 'single payer', but when a real proposal becomes actual legislation, such as S.B. 562, they will abet the insurance industry and other corporate giants in attacking it," said Markowitz.
She added that De Leon's stance on healthcare shows he will "stand up to the heat, and do what is right for California...rather than looking for ways to appeal to corporate donors. That's exactly what we need in the Senate, especially in the age of Trump."
Should De León defeat Feinstein, the country's most populous state will be represented by two senators who back universal healthcare. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) signed on to Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) Medicare for All bill as a co-sponsor last year.