Four more Democratic senators, Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), have announced that they will co-sponsor Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) Medicare for All bill.
Booker announced his support on NJTV news Monday afternoon, where he echoed comments made by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and others who have come out in support of the bill.
— NJTV News (@NJTVNews) September 11, 2017
“You should not be punished because you are working class or poor…. I think health care should be a right to all,” Booker said. “This is something that’s got to happen. Obamacare was a first step in advancing this country, but I won’t rest until every American has a basic security that comes with having access to affordable health care.”
Shortly after Booker announced that he would co-sponsor the bill, Merkley announced he was joining his colleagues on Twitter.
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) September 11, 2017
“I’m co-sponsoring @SenSanders’ #MedicareForAll bill,” Merkley tweeted. “Health care should be a right for all, not a privilege just for the healthy & wealthy.”
Just hours later, Mic broke the news that Gillibrand, who has come out in the past in favor of single-payer, will also co-sponsor the bill.
Whitehouse announced his endorsement last Friday through a spokesperson, who spoke with WPRI.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) September 9, 2017
“Senator Whitehouse intends to cosponsor this bill to move the conversation forward on single-payer health care,” the spokesperson said. “The senator will also continue to press for legislation to create a public health insurance option, which he co-authored with Sens. Brown and Franken, and has long supported.”
The senators join an already star-studded cast of co-sponsors. Last week, progressive darling Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) made the unsurprising announcement that she would co-sponsor the bill, and the week before, Harris, who is considered a rising star in the party, emerged as the bill’s first co-sponsor.
Warren and Harris, along with Sanders himself, have been discussed as likely candidates for president in 2020. Booker and Gillibrand’s endorsements in particular are yet another sign that support for single-payer is likely going to be the standard in 2020, no longer a deviation from the party line.
Although he did not endorse Sanders’ specific bill, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) said last week that he also supports a single-payer system.
“My personal view is we’ve got to start looking at single-payer,” Baucus said Thursday at Montana State University. “I think we should have hearings…. We’re getting there. It’s going to happen.”
Sanders and his co-sponsors will unveil the Medicare for All bill Wednesday.
UPDATE: As of Tuesday afternoon at 3:15 p.m., Sanders’ bill has garnered 11 total public co-sponsors. In addition to Warren, Gillibrand, Booker, Harris, Merkley, and Whitehouse, Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have all announced their intention to co-sponsor the bill.
— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) September 12, 2017
Hirono, who is currently battling kidney cancer, tweeted, “We are all one diagnosis away from a major illness. When that time comes, no one should have to worry about whether they can afford care that might save their life.”
— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) September 12, 2017