U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All bill released Wednesday garnered support from a group of high-profile Democrats—Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker. But Washington’s progressive senators aren’t among them.
Sanders’s highly-anticipated legislation to create a publicly funded single-payer universal health care system has the backing of 16 Democratic co-sponsors, a huge boost for the effort that didn’t see nearly that amount of support just years earlier. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell haven’t signed on.
Murray’s been busy with Senate hearings on health insurance and affordability and a last ditch effort by Republicans to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act.
Of course, Republican senators immediately dismissed Sanders's bill. Signaling support for it would be tricky for Murray, a ranking member who's working with Tennessee GOP Senator Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Pensions and Labor Committee, toward a bipartisan solution to health insurance markets. She also received the fifth-largest amount of donations from pharmaceuticals and health products during the 2015-2016 election cycle, according to OpenSecrets.org—but Sanders was also among the top 20 (18th).
A Murray spokesperson said the senator is considering Sanders’s legislation alongside other health care bills introduced by Democrats.
“I am focused right now on fighting back against Trumpcare and getting Republicans to join us on legislation to stabilize health care markets and prevent premium increases,” Murray told PubliCola by email.
Cantwell won’t be supporting it at this time, according to her spokesperson. Cantwell in a statement to PubliCola said she looked forward to working with Sanders and that “we must achieve universal coverage, reduce costs, and improve health outcomes.”
The plan would expand medicare into the nation’s single health insurance provider and cover medical, dental, and vision for all U.S. residents. It would expand coverage in phases over the course of four years, beginning with coverage for children under the age of 18 and adults between 55-64. What the bill doesn't have is a plan to pay for it, and many Democratic backers are those also considered to be potential 2020 presidential hopefuls.
Sanders’s office said the legislation would be another step forward after the Affordable Care Act, helping the remaining 28 million people left uninsured and “finally separating health insurance from employment.”
Updated September 15, 2017, at 2:35pm to include another statement from Cantwell's office.