As we celebrate the 53rd anniversary of Medicare being signed into law, it is worth reflecting just how far the movement for improving and expanding Medicare to everyone has come in the past year. When we celebrated the 52nd anniversary in 2017, Medicare-for-All was moving into the mainstream. Now it is impossible to discuss health care without discussing Medicare-for-All. This momentum has been spurred by activists pushing back against the Trump administration’s continued attacks and falsehoods about health care and also by Americans demanding a health care system that works for them, instead of for corporate profits. Progressive candidates, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are poised to bring additional support and fervor to the fight for Medicare-for-All.
Since July 30, 2017, we have seen the release of a Medicare-for-All bill (S. 1804) in the Senate with a record 16 original cosponsors; growth in the number of House members cosponsoring H.R. 676 to 123, which is a majority of the Democratic Caucus; the launch of a Medicare-for-All Congressional caucus; countless articles and stories on Medicare-for-All in the press; and ever growing grassroots support, including activists knocking on doors and asking candidates whether they support health care as a human right.
Most recently, the announcement of the Medicare-for-All caucus, which more than 70 members of Congress have joined, marked a major milestone in the fight for a single-payer health care system. The announcement included a press conference where members of Congress, including caucus co-chairs Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) spoke about the need for Medicare-for-All. Representatives from a number of groups, including Public Citizen, the Center for Popular Democracy, National Nurses United, and Social Security Works also spoke about the benefits of single-payer health care for a variety of populations.
Public Citizen President, Robert Weissman, spoke during the Medicare-for-All caucus launch about the growing people power on Medicare-for-All and the high stakes of getting health care right:
In America, we pay a lot more for health care than every other rich country and we get a lot less. We have more people dying in hospitals from preventable problems than any other rich country. And we have by far the highest infant mortality rate of any rich country… We choose to let people be sick and go untreated. We choose to let babies die. Actually, we don’t really choose it at all. We, the people, don’t choose it. The problem is not a lack of solutions. We know what the solution is, Medicare-for-All. The problem is the influence and power of the hospitals and the drug companies and the for-profit insurance companies. That’s the problem. And that is why the creation of this caucus is so vital. It is vital because it represents a turning point in our politics, where people power is now poised to defeat corporate power in the halls of Congress… This is really a momentous day; the creation of this caucus. The time is not far off, at all, not just when we get votes on Medicare-for-All, but when it’s signed into law and we actually deliver on the promise that health care is a right.
If the last year is any indication of how much the movement will grow in the years to come, the road to passage of Medicare-for-All in the coming years is much clearer than it’s even been. Tweet along with us today (@Public_Citizen and @eagankemp) as we celebrate the 53rd anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid. Finally, check out our revamped Medicare-for-All page for the latest developments and for additional ways to get involved in this crucial fight!