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Supporters of Medicare for All demonstrate outside of the Charleston Gaillard Center in South Carolina on February 25, 2020. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

'Take the Next Step': Progressives Mark ACA Anniversary With Calls for Medicare for All

"Healthcare is a human right. And it is unimaginable that, in the wealthiest country in the world, we still don't treat it like one."

Brett Wilkins

Progressives on Wednesday marked the 12th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act by praising the landmark legislation while calling for the implementation of Medicare for All in order to ensure that everyone in the United States receives the healthcare coverage they need.

"Millions remain uninsured, and that's unacceptable. Healthcare should be a right, not a privilege. The next step is Medicare for All."

While President Joe Biden hailed the anniversary by nebulously vowing his administration "will keep fighting to lower costs and further expand health coverage," progressives offered a concrete solution.

"Today we celebrate 12 years of the Affordable Care Act, a monumental law that has helped more than 400,000 people in Massachusetts get the healthcare they need," tweeted Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). "Our mission now is to secure universal healthcare for the millions of still uninsured Americans with Medicare for All."

Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) called the ACA—popularly called Obamacare—"the start of securing healthcare as a right and not a privilege in this country."

"To finish this though, we need to go further," she added. "We need #MedicareForAll."

Before the ACA, it was estimated that 45,000 Americans died each year because they lacked access to healthcare. While the ACA has dramatically reduced that number, a 2020 analysis by researchers at the Harvard University School of Public Health estimated that as many as 25,180 Americans died after losing healthcare coverage amid Obamacare cuts carried out by the administration of former President Donald Trump.

While praising the ACA for "expanding healthcare access to millions of Americans," Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) noted that "millions remain uninsured, and that's unacceptable."

"Healthcare should be a right, not a privilege, she tweeted. "The next step is Medicare for All."

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) noted that even though the ACA has greatly expanded healthcare access and reduced costs for many people, "Americans spend on average more than $12,500 on medical expenses every year" when including deductibles and premiums.

"The ACA guaranteed that millions could access healthcare," she tweeted. "Now it's time for us to cut costs and provide truly affordable care for people across this country."

The Working Families Party (WFP) tweeted that thanks to the ACA, "millions of people have received life-changing and lifesaving care, and folks with preexisting conditions are protected from discrimination by insurance companies."

"But we can't lose sight of the pain and stress still caused by the U.S. healthcare system," WFP continued. "The American people are in $140 billion dollars of medical debt, with an estimated 31.2 million people having no insurance at all. That's unacceptable."

The advocacy group Social Security Works tweeted: "Everyone deserves to live and retire in dignity. That's why it's past time to expand our Social Security system, improve Medicare and expand it to cover everyone, and lower drug prescription prices."

Earlier this week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted he will "soon be reintroducing" a Medicare for All bill.

"In the midst of the current set of horrors—war, oligarchy, pandemics, inflation, climate change, etc.," the democratic socialist senator said, "we must continue the fight to establish healthcare as a human right, not a privilege."

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