The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jayapal Introduces Medicare for All Act of 2021 Alongside More Than Half of House Democratic Caucus After Millions Lose Health Care During a Pandemic

Legislation guarantees health care to everyone as a human right by providing comprehensive benefits including primary care, vision, dental, prescription drugs, mental health, long-term services and supports, reproductive health care, and more with no copays, private insurance premiums, deductibles, or other cost-sharing. 


Today, U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Debbie Dingell (MI-12) introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2021, transformative legislation that would guarantee health care to everyone in America as a human right at a moment in which nearly 100 million people are uninsured or underinsured during a pandemic. Endorsed by 300 local, state, and national organizations and co-sponsored by more than half of the House Democratic Caucus including 14 committee chairs and key leadership Members, the landmark bill provides comprehensive benefits to all with no copays, private insurance premiums, deductibles, or other cost-sharing.

The Medicare for All Act of 2021 is being introduced in the House of Representatives one year to the day that the COVID-19 virus was first confirmed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This devastating public health crisis, which has taken the lives of more than 540,000 Americans, has only underscored how the country's current health care system leaves millions behind. As unemployment skyrocketed to historic levels during the pandemic, millions of additional families lost their health care and the country experienced the highest increase in the number of uninsured Americans ever recorded.

"While this devastating pandemic is shining a bright light on our broken, for-profit health care system, we were already leaving nearly half of all adults under the age of 65 uninsured or underinsured before COVID-19 hit. And we were cruelly doing so while paying more per capita for health care than any other country in the world," said Congresswoman Jayapal. "There is a solution to this health crisis -- a popular one that guarantees health care 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 -- and I am proud to introduce it today alongside a powerful movement across America."

"A system that prioritizes profits over patients and ties coverage to employment was no match for a global pandemic and will never meet the needs of our people," said Congresswoman Dingell. "In the wealthiest nation on earth, patients should not be launching GoFundMe pages to afford lifesaving health care for themselves or their loved ones. Medicare For All will build an inclusive health care system that won't just open the door to care for millions of our neighbors, but do it more efficiently and effectively than the one we have today. Now is not the time to shy away from these generational fights, it is the time for action."

The Medicare for All Act builds upon and expands Medicare to provide comprehensive benefits to every person in the United States. This includes primary care, vision, dental, prescription drugs, mental health, substance abuse, long-term services and supports, reproductive health care, and more. The Medicare for All Act of 2021 also includes universal coverage of long-term care with no cost-sharing for older Americans and individuals with disabilities, and prioritizes home and community-based care over institutional care. Additionally, patients have the freedom to choose the doctors, hospitals, and other providers they wish to see without worrying about whether a provider is in-network. Importantly, the legislation streamlines the health care system to negotiate drug prices and reduce exorbitant administrative waste.

This growing movement for universal, single-payer health care has robust support inside and outside of Congress. The Medicare for All Act of 2021 has several new co-sponsors including the Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. who just committed to a hearing on Medicare for All. Last Congress, the legislation had four historic hearings--the first-ever on Medicare for All--in the House Committee on Rules, the House Committee on Ways and Means, the House Committee on the Budget, and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Medicare for All is supported by 69 percent of registered voters including 87 percent of Democrats, the majority of Independents, and nearly half of Republicans. Additionally, over 50 cities and towns across America have passed resolutions endorsing Medicare for All.

The Medicare for All Act of 2021 is also endorsed by 300 local, state, and national organizations that represent nurses, doctors, business owners, unions, and racial justice organizations. This includes Physicians for a National Health Program, Public Citizen, National Nurses United, Center for Popular Democracy, People's Action, Social Security Works, Labor Campaign for Single Payer, SEIU, and hundreds more.

For a full list of endorsing organizations, click here.

"The pandemic has underscored the cruelty and irrationality of our current health care system--and the urgency of replacing it with Medicare for All. Amid the worst acute public health crisis in generations, millions lost their health insurance and health insurer profits soared," said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. "Medicare for All will ensure everyone has health care coverage, including when they need it most, and will eliminate the waste and profiteering that drives ever-escalating costs. Public Citizen thanks Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Debbie Dingell, as well as the other original co-sponsors of the Medicare for All Act, for their leadership and determination in delivering health justice."

"The pandemic has highlighted in deadly detail what nurses have known for decades: Our current health care system, based on private insurance tied to employment, is a colossal failure and leaves far too many of our patients to suffer and die unnecessarily," said Bonnie Castillo, RN and executive director of National Nurses United. "We thank Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Rep. Debbie Dingell for their leadership in guaranteeing health care is a human right. While we mourn the more than 500,000 lives lost to Covid, we rededicate ourselves to the fight to ensure that everyone is provided with high-quality health care regardless of where they live, how much money they make, or their health, immigration, or employment status. Nurses will never rest until we get this done."

"Physicians have been saying it for years: We cannot give patients the care they need in a fractured and profit-driven system. For too long, doctors have watched helplessly as our patients delayed or skipped needed care--even walking out our hospital doors--because they could not afford to pay. While some are uninsured, many of these are patients enrolled in commercial insurance plans, but can't afford the thousands of dollars they must pay upfront in deductibles and copays," said Dr. Susan Rogers, President of Physicians for a National Health Program. "Medicare for All is the only plan that puts patients first: It guarantees health care for life, with free choice of hospital and provider, and no financial firewalls to stand in the way of care. It's no surprise that a majority of physicians and other health providers now support single-payer Medicare for All."

"More than any other policy, Medicare for All, would help families impacted by COVID to recover and would move to address the extreme racial disparities in health care," said Jennifer Flynn Walker, Senior Director of Advocacy and Mobilization at the Center for Popular Democracy Action. "Imagine going to the doctor without the fear of an enormous bill. Imagine losing your job, but still being able to access health care for your family. Medicare for All is a necessary policy for us to address the new normal. It is not radical. It is compassionate and sensible policy making."

"This pandemic has made it plain that our collective health and our economy depend on all of us staying healthy and safe," said People's Action Deputy Director Bree Carlson. "Our government can make this a reality by passing Medicare for All, ensuring that every one of us has access to free, high quality health care. We can and we must build a health care system strong enough to protect us all from the next health crisis."

"The costs of our current health care system remain unsustainable for too many working families, for seniors, and for employers. IFPTE applauds Rep. Jayapal, Rep. Dingell, and the cosponsors of the Medicare for All Act of 2021 for proposing a solution that will benefit all Americans by ensuring that all Americans are guaranteed high quality comprehensive health care as a right," said Paul Shearon, President of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE). "Medicare for All would end the drag that rising health care costs have on our union members' wages and benefits, while advancing health justice and equity for all workers."

"We need to reform our national health care system now more than ever after everything we've been through this past year in battling a world-wide pandemic," said Eric Dickson, MD, President and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care. "I believe a Medicare-for-All type of system could greatly improve health care equity in this country while ultimately reducing costs and physician burnout."

The Medicare for All Act of 2021 is co-sponsored by 14 committee chairs and several key leadership Members. Co-sponsors include Alma S. Adams Ph.D., Nanette Diaz Barragan, Karen Bass, Don Beyer, Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Jamaal Bowman, Brendan F. Boyle, Cori Bush, Salud Carbajal, Tony Cardenas, Andre Carson, Matt Cartwright, Judy Chu, David Cicilline, Katherine Clark, Yvette D. Clarke, Emanuel Cleaver, II, Steve Cohen, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Danny K. Davis, Peter DeFazio, Diana DeGette, Mark DeSaulnier, Lloyd Doggett, Mike Doyle, Ted Deutch, Veronica Escobar, Adriano Espaillat, Teresa Leger Fernandez, Lois Frankel, Ruben Gallego, Jesus G. "Chuy" Garcia, Jimmy Gomez, Al Green, Raul M. Grijalva, Josh Harder, Alcee L. Hastings, Jahana Hayes, Brian Higgins, Jared Huffman, Sara Jacobs, Hakeem Jeffries, Hank Johnson, Mondaire Jones, Kaiali'i Kahele, William R. Keating, Robin L. Kelly, Ro Khanna, Daniel T. Kildee, Ann Kirkpatrick, James R. Langevin, Brenda L. Lawrence, Barbara Lee, Sheila Jackson Lee, Andy Levin, Mike Levin, Ted W. Lieu, Alan Lowenthal, Carolyn B. Maloney, James P. McGovern, Jerry McNerney, Gregory W. Meeks, Grace Meng, Jerrold Nadler, Grace F. Napolitano, Joe Neguse, Marie Newman, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Frank Pallone Jr., Jimmy Panetta, Ed Perlmutter, Chellie Pingree, Mark Pocan, Katie Porter, Ayanna Pressley, Jamie Raskin, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Bobby L. Rush, Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, Linda Sanchez, John Sarbanes, Jan Schakowsky, Adam Schiff, Robert C. "Bobby" Scott, Brad Sherman, Adam Smith, Jackie Speier, Eric Swalwell, Mark Takano, Bennie G. Thompson, Mike Thompson, Dina Titus, Rashida Tlaib, Paul Tonko, Ritchie Torres, Lori Trahan, Juan Vargas, Marc Veasey, Nydia M. Velazquez, Maxine Waters, Peter Welch, Susan Wild, Nikema Williams, Frederica Wilson, and John Yarmuth.

To view the text of the legislation, click here.

U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07)