Oregon U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley became one of six Senate co-sponsors when Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont introduced Medicare for All legislation Sept. 13.
Meanwhile, in the U.S. House of Representatives, 117 House Democrats have so far signed on as co-sponsors of a companion bill, HR 676, including Oregon’s Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, and Peter DeFazio.
The United States already has a “single payer” publicly-sponsored health insurance program, but you have to be at least 65 or disabled to get it: It’s called Medicare. Sanders’ bill would expand Medicare to all Americans. When Congress passed Medicare in 1965, it was seen as a first step towards universal health care.
Announcing his co-sponsorship, Merkley said he has heard from many Oregonians about the importance of simplifying the fragmented health care system to ensure that no Americans fall through the cracks.
“Health care should be a right for every single American, not a privilege reserved for the healthy and the wealthy,” he said. “Right now, our health care system is incredibly complex, fragmented, and stressful. It would be terrific to have a simple, seamless system where, solely by virtue of living in America, you know that you will get the care you need.”
Medicare for All appears to have majority public support: a June Kaiser Foundation poll found that 53 percent now favor a single-payer health plan in which all Americans would get their insurance from a single government plan.