The Senate's most conservative Democrat said Tuesday Congress should consider adopting a single-payer health-care system, a sign of how fast politics are shifting on what was once seen as a fringe issue on the left.
In announcing he'd be one of the bill's cosponsors, Merkley called for simplifying the "fragmented health care system". The most surprising Democrat endorsement of single-payer came from Max Baucus, former Montana Senator and key player in getting Obamacare through Congress. Baucus was a vocal opponent of single-payer during the 2009/2010 Obamacare debate.
Sanders' office has announced he will introduce the bill on Wednesday. "To support the idea that it captures is that we want to have everybody, as many people as possible, covered". Till now it has tempted three senators considered as Presidential aspirants: Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey mentioned that they will promote the bill.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) told Bloomberg that he was open to exploring a single-payer health insurance program.
Gillibrand's ascension to the Senate came at a pivotal time for Democrats. Just previous year, Hillary Clinton dismissed single-payer as "a theoretical debate about some better idea that will never, ever come to pass". "I know a lot of Democrats", Clinton answered, in part, according to the transcript of the interview published by NPR's Morning Edition. I think the momentum for a single-payer system will sweep the country... This would create an affordable, public health care plan that's available to any American to purchase through the already-existing insurance exchanges.
A June Pew poll found that 52 percent of Democrats and Americans who lean Democrat support federally-funded universal healthcare. And among self-described liberals, it was 64 percent.
Expanded health care coverage through efforts such as making Medicare available to all Americans has increasingly become popular among Democrats recently, especially since the 2016 elections.
A single-payer healthcare push has previously been well outside the mainstream for most Democrats. When Sanders made the idea a central part of presidential campaign, several Democrats, including congressional leadership and the party's eventual nominee Hillary Clinton, said the proposal was unrealistic and would be too costly and disruptive to the United States economy.
Expect this to continue apace in the days and weeks ahead.