Here Are 5 Democrats Who Are Supporting Single-Payer Healthcare in Their 2018 Campaigns

Election '18

So far, Republicans have been unable to overturn the Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare, but that doesn’t mean that they have given up on the idea. And the November midterms could have a major impact on whether or not the ACA survives: if the GOP can maintain control of the House of Representatives while increasing its narrow majority in the U.S. Senate, the ACA is likely to be overturned. With Republicans determined to deprive millions of Americans of health insurance, it is important for Democrats to offer an alternative to all the preventable deaths, unnecessary suffering and medical bankruptcies that Trumpcare would inevitably cause. And in 2018, more and more Democrats are doing more than defending the ACA—they are following Sen. Bernie Sanders’ lead and coming out in favor of universal healthcare via a single-payer or “Medicare for all” system.

Here are five Democratic candidates who are making single-payer healthcare part of their platforms in 2018.

1. Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth

In 2010, it wasn’t Republicans who ultimately killed the idea of a public option for healthcare; it was the Democratic leadership, who realized that they didn’t have enough Democratic votes in the U.S. Senate (which Democrats controlled at the time). The ACA—which was based on Republican ideas that had been proposed by the Heritage Foundation, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and President Richard Nixon—was the Democrats’ big compromise. The fact is that the ACA is very Republican-influenced no matter how much President Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and other disingenuous Republicans deny it. And because Republicans are so treacherous and deceitful when it comes to health care, Democrats need to be as bold as possible—even in a state like Kentucky, where Rep. John Yarmuth is seeking reelection and has voiced his support for single-payer healthcare. Yarmuth, who is running against Republican Vickie Yates Glisson, isn’t using the term “single payer”; he prefers framing it as “Medicare for all” because “everybody knows what Medicare is; you don’t have to explain it.” But the bottom line is that even in Kentucky, Yarmuth believes that universal healthcare has become “very safe ground” for Democrats.

2. Braddock, PA Mayor John Fetterman

Braddock, PA Mayor John Fetterman, a Bernie Sanders ally who is running for lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, has been consistently outspoken in his support for universal healthcare—and while he has applauded the gains of the ACA, Fetterman has also asserted that it doesn’t go far enough and that ultimately, he wants to see a single-payer system adopted in the U.S. Fetterman, in fact, ran decidedly to the left of Pennsylvania’s current lieutenant governor, Michael Stack, in a Democratic primary earlier this year. And having defeated Stack, Fetterman—who Sanders has been campaigning for—will be bringing his pro-single payer views to the same ticket as incumbent Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf in November. Wolf/Fetterman will be one of this year’s most important gubernatorial tickets for Democrats; Pennsylvania is a major swing state that Trump won in 2016—and Fetterman is exactly the sort of candidate who can offer an attractive liberal/progressive alternative to Trumpism in the Rust Belt.

3. Congressional Candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

A major political upset occurred on June 26 when 28-year-old Sanders ally Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—a member of the Democratic Socialists of America—defeated Rep. Joe Crowley by a landslide in a Democratic congressional primary in Queens and the Bronx. Just as Fetterman challenged Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Michael Stack from the left in a primary and won, Ocasio-Cortez ran overtly to the left of Crowley—and single-payer healthcare played a prominent role in her campaign. Ocasio-Cortez, who is running against Republican Anthony Pappas for the seat that Crowley will be vacating in the House of Representatives, has stressed that healthcare should be a right—not a privilege. And she includes dental and eye care in her Medicare-for-all platform.

4. Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin

When Sanders introduced the Medicare for All Act in the U.S. Senate last year, he obviously knew that it wasn’t going to pass given that Republicans presently control the Senate. But it was important for him to roll the dice anyway, and one of the bill’s Democratic co-sponsors was Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin—who is seeking reelection this year. In a September 12, 2017 commentary for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Baldwin asserted that although she supported the gains of the ACA, she believed it was time to make health care universal with a Medicare-for-all system. And the Wisconsin senator described some of her own terrible experiences in pre-ACA America: because of a childhood illness that insured companies considered a “preexisting condition,” Baldwin couldn’t get health insurance for a long time.

5. Texas Senatorial Candidate Beto O’Rourke

Texas politics are more nuanced and complex than some pundits believe: Democrats dominate local politics in major cities like Houston, Austin and El Paso, and whites are now a minority in the increasingly Latino Lone Star State. But Texas Republicans have an incredibly strong ground game at the state level, and a long list of Texas’ rural counties are deeply Republican. So, Beto O’Rourke, who is hoping to unseat far-right Sen. Ted Cruz in November, knows that he is facing an uphill battle. And one of the things O’Rourke is campaigning on is universal health care. O’Rourke has stressed that unlike Cruz, he wouldn’t vote to overturn the ACA in the Senate. But the ACA’s protections, as O’Rourke points out, don’t go far enough—and on Facebook, he declared, “A single-payer Medicare-for-all program is the best way to ensure all Americans get the healthcare they need.”

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