How Democrats Can Win With Medicare For All

It’s time to stop talking about what we cannot do and start to dream big.
08/29/2017 08:58 am ET
MANDEL NGAN via Getty Images

Elected officials in both parties, but especially Democrats, are failing the American people on health care. This failure to think outside of the box is what’s kept our country from joining the rest of the industrialized world in offering universal health care. We live in a country that sent people to the moon. This accomplishment, along with other bold leaps of faith, required political will, determination and imagination. Providing health care for all of our citizens requires the same force of will. It is an attainable goal that is not only morally right, it is politically and economically viable policy position that Democrats can win on. It is imperative that Democrats take a stand and embrace Medicare for All and other progressive policies that address the needs of millions of Americans. 

Poll after poll says that Americans, from all walks of life, are ready for universal health care. By now it’s been widely reported that a majority of Democrats support a single payer health care system. Republican voters are also changing their minds about how our country tackles rising health care costs. A recent YouGov poll found 40 percent of Trump voters support expanding Medicare to all Americans. Among all Republicans, the share rises to 46 percent.

Even Republicans in office are waking to the knowledge that health care access is important to voters on both sides of the aisle. When the Senate was creating their repeal bill, the most progressive parts of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid expansion and regulating the insurance companies, were the policies Senate Republicans with the most and ultimately failed to repeal.

Medicaid expansion benefited 23 million people who, until its passage, were left to the mercies of insurance companies. We must speak to those 23 million people and the 27 million who are still without health care about the moral obligation this country has to provide quality health care to everyone. If Democrats hope to win majorities again they must expand the electorate. This can be done by taking bold positions and advancing a public policy agenda that speaks to the needs of the overwhelming majority of Americans. One of the ways to do that is by supporting universal health care.

This is not the time for our party to move to the center."

It’s time to stop talking about what we cannot do and start to dream big, drive hard and demonstrate to the American people that Democrats are prepared to serve and lead. If this summer’s health care debacle proved anything, it is that there is support for so called “progressive” policies ― universal health care coverage, raising the minimum wage, taxing Wall Street, and college tuition for everyone.

Right now, our country is reeling under the leadership of a president that cannot tell the difference between peaceful protesters and white supremacists. This is not the time for our party to move to the center.

At the 2016 Democratic Convention, Democrats passed one of the most progressive party platforms in our history. The more Democrats try to abandon the values and policies embodied in our platform, the more we will continue to lose. We can’t win by running on incrementalism.

In 2008, we won the White House by talking to voters in red states and blue states about how we can change our country for the better. Slogans like “Yes we can” and a “A future to believe in” are not just empty promises. They speak to the promises we hold in our hearts that our country can be better for those who are here and for those who are yet to come. 

We must continue to be the party that fights for working people of all ethnicities. When 27 million people are still without any access to health care coverage, it is our responsibility to speak to the millions of people about why it is wrong that insurance companies make billions in profits but they are left out in the cold.

Our country is the richest in the history of the world. We should be working to expand and improve successful programs like Medicare, and offer more to our citizens. Instead, we’ve allowed billionaires, not doctors, to decide which services people need while weighing their worth against profits.

As 2018 draws near, the electorate will be paying attention to Democrats who fail to stand on the right side of the health care debate. In states like California, which came close to passing universal health care, it was Democrats, not Republicans, who blocked those efforts. When people head to the ballot box in 2018 and beyond they will remember which elected officials chose to settle for what is and those who dared to push towards making the seemingly impossible ― possible.

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