The audience holds Medicare for All signs during a Sen. Bernie Sanders rally in 2017

The audience waves signs as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks during an event to introduce the Medicare for All Act of 2017 on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Movement Grows: Jayapal Heralds Record 120 Medicare for All Co-Sponsors

The Washington Democrat welcomed the latest development in the "fight to ensure healthcare as a human right."

Rep. Pramila Jayapal on Sunday welcomed a new record number of co-sponsors--120--for her Medicare for All legislation.

The latest support came from Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-Fla.), who was sworn in just two weeks ago.

Two other House Democrats also signed on as co-sponsors last week: Reps. Donald Norcross of New Jersey and Shontel Brown of Ohio.

"We've officially got a record 120 co-sponsors on my Medicare for All Act!" tweeted Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Jayapal (D-Wash.), welcoming the latest development in the "fight to ensure healthcare as a human right."

A longtime proponent of a single-payer healthcare system, Jayapal introduced H.R. 1976, which calls for a two-year phase-in to cover all Americans, last year.

She said at the time that the Covid-19 crisis "is shining a bright light on our broken, for-profit healthcare system," though even before the pandemic hit "we were already leaving nearly half of all adults under the age of 65 uninsured or underinsured."

"There is a solution to this health crisis," she said, "a popular one that guarantees healthcare to every person as a human right and finally puts people over profits and care over corporations. That solution is Medicare for All--everyone in, nobody out."

Among the organizations that have endorsed Jayapal's proposal is Public Citizen. In a report last year, the advocacy group estimated that "hundreds of thousands of deaths could have been prevented" if the nation had universal health coverage.

Another longtime advocate of Medicare for All--Sen. Bernie Sanders--in December drew a line between the gaps in Americans' healthcare coverage and the pandemic.

Covid-19, he tweeted at the time, "has shown us clearly the vulgarity of our healthcare 'system.' Highest costs in the world, yet not enough nurses or doctors. Many millions uninsured, while insurance company profits soar. The struggle continues. Healthcare is a human right. Medicare for all."

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That December tweet came two weeks after the nation had surpassed 800,000 known deaths from Covid-19.

On Friday, the U.S. death toll from the disease surpassed 900,000, a rise fueled in part by the Omicron variant.

"It's absolutely staggering," said Johns Hopkins University epidemiologist Jennifer Nuzzo of the death toll.

"It's unreal, frankly," she said. "And what makes it an even... greater heartbreak--as if the loss of 900,000 souls weren't enough of a heartbreak--is the fact that it's probably an undercount of the number of people that we've lost."

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