A volunteer hands out a poster as Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders was set to address a “Medicare for All” rally in downtown Columbia, S.C. on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018 (AP/Meg Kinnard)

En route to Congress, California Democrats hit wall on "Medicare-for-all"

It's unlikely there will be much progressive health care legislation coming out of Congress in the next two years


Samantha Young
January 5, 2019 10:00AM (UTC)
This article originally appeared on Kaiser Health News.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Each of the seven California Democrats who flipped Republican congressional seats in the midterm election campaigned for more government-funded health care — with most of them calling for a complete government takeover.

So when they join the Golden State’s delegation this week, they will make it the largest state bloc to support “Medicare-for-all” in the U.S. House of Representatives. And Democrats, of course, will control the House.

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Despite this political shift, the reality is that there’s probably not going to be much progressive health care legislation coming out of Congress in the next two years — a point on which even Democratic lawmakers agree.

“We need to do the things that are doable — that aren’t pie in the sky,” said U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat and the dean of the California delegation.

Democrats will hold 46 of the state’s 53 congressional seats in the House. It’s the largest contingent of Democrats the state has ever sent to Congress, according to membership rosters on the congressional History, Art & Archives website. All but seven of them have publicly supported, at one time, some form of government-financed health care — whether a sweeping Medicare-for-all program that would provide health insurance to all Americans, or an optional “public option” plan for those who want it.

California’s Democratic junior senator, Kamala Harris, who is contemplating a presidential bid, also supports Medicare-for-all, calling it “the moral and ethical thing to do.”

But the U.S. Senate will remain under Republican control, and Republican President Donald Trump has lambasted the idea of more government involvement in health care. Because of that political reality, Feinstein and others have said, the state’s freshman lawmakers who are eager to push forward on Medicare-for-all or a public option ought to refocus.


Samantha Young

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