A new poll showing nearly 90 percent approval among Democratic voters for Medicare for All has stirred fresh calls for Joe Biden, the party's presumptive nominee, to end his outdated opposition to the healthcare solution that would cover all Americans at less overall cost than the current, more wasteful for-profit system.
Arriving amid the coronavirus pandemic that has thrust the nation into a public health emergency and triggered a nearly unprecedented economic calamity in the U.S., the Hill-HarrisX survey released Friday showed overall voter support for Medicare for All 69 percent but that number soared to 88 percent for registered Democrats. Among independents, voters likely to be crucial in the 2020 general election, support now sits at 68 percent while even among Republicans sits at 46 percent.
Speaking to Hill.TV on the findings, Felicia Wong, president and CEO of the left-leaning Roosevelt Institute, said that the coronavirus has opened people's eyes even further to the need for a universal, single-payer healthcare system like Medicare for All. "These progressive policies have been popular for a long time," Wong said. "I think COVID-19 will make them more popular as it becomes clear just how fragile our American political economy really is."
The latest figures led to calls for Biden to drop his stubborn opposition to Medicare for All and join with the majority of Democratic voters and the American people who now recognize it as a necessary solution to the nation's healthcare woes.
"Hey, Joe Biden, as a Democrat running for president in a pandemic, this looks like a popular idea," said Michael Lighty, a health policy expert and advocate, pointing at the poll.
Dear @JoeBiden:— Ryan Knight (@ProudResister) April 25, 2020
69% of ALL voters now support #MedicareForAll, including 68% of Independents & 88% of Democrats.
It’s no longer a tenable position for you to oppose Medicare For All & be the Democratic nominee.
It’s time for you to put the people first. https://t.co/iUE4H6Qllw
Earlier this month Biden put forth a proposal to drop the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 down to 60 as an apparent effort to win over supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who suspended his presidential bid a week earlier. But critics, as Common Dreams reported, immediately said the plan does nothing to address the fundamental failures of the corporate-driven healthcare system that often ties coverage to employment, leaves tens of millions uninsured or underinsured, and leads to spiraling costs.
In new reporting by Politico, meanwhile, progressive advocacy groups like MoveOn.org confirmed they are going to make pushing Biden to the left on healthcare is going to be a focus amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis and through the general election season.
"Obviously the pandemic, with both its health and economic impacts, has become the top issue that everyone is talking about," Dan Kalik, MoveOn's senior political adviser, told Politico. "It's all-encompassing. It's impacting every aspect of our lives. It's the key issue we're working on, and it's going to be an issue through November."
While Julian Brave Noisecat of the progressive think tank Data for Progress said his group's general belief is " that the quote unquote establishment is going to tell the left to f--k off on Medicare for All," other Democrats aligned with the Sanders wing of the party believe there is still opportunity to move Biden and others in leadership.
Medicare For All WILL be on the Democratic party platform this year— Healthcare-NOW! (@HCNow) April 25, 2020
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and lead sponsor of The Medicare for All Act of 2019 in the U.S. House, said she has no illusions about who Biden is on the issue but that progressives would be pressuring him nonetheless. "I'd be fooling myself if I thought Joe Biden would embrace Medicare for All," Jayapal said. "But I do think there's room for him to move much more than he has so far."
Appearing on MSNBC with Ali Velshi on Saturday morning, Sanders said that he also believes Biden can be pushed to embrace something closer to his vision of complete Medicare for All. Specifically, Sanders said the former Vice President could support lowering the Medicare age to 55 as well as making all children under the age of 18 eligible would be "some of the things that Joe Biden can do without embracing a full Medicare for All concept."
According to The Hill, their online poll with HarrisX surveyed 958 registered voters between April 19 and 20 and has margin of error of +/- 3.17 percentage points.