In a dramatic late night vote last week, the Senate rejected a Republican led effort that would repeal portions of the Affordable Care Act. The defeat of the attempted “skinny repeal” seems to have put GOP Obamacare repeal effort on the backburner for the time being, much to the relief millions of individuals, especially poor people of color, disabled individuals, and women and families who rely on the ACA to meet their healthcare needs.
According to numerous reports, many Republican leaders have “simply moved on” from their defeat, and are hoping to focus on other priorities before the Senate recesses in mid-August.
As Sen. Orrin Hatch, the head of the Finance Committee told Reuters, Republicans are too conflicted on the issue to sustain another attempt to repeal and replace the ACA.
“There’s just too much animosity and we’re too divided on healthcare,” he stated.
Although efforts to repeal and replace the ACA have been foiled, the American healthcare system still leaves much to be desired. For many, health insurance premiums have become too costly, deductibles are on the incline, and there are a lack of health insurance options. These problems have left many wondering what the next steps may be, and some are encouraged by an upcoming proposal brought forth by Vermont senator Bernie Sanders in the form of universal healthcare for all Americans.
According to The Guardian, Sanders will spend several weeks leading a campaign to build support for his plan before unveiling the bill in September. On August 2, Sanders unveiled an advertising campaign on social media that encourages supporters of his plan to become “citizen co-sponsors” of his “Medicare for All” plan.
“Bottom line is: if other countries around the world are providing quality care to all their people, we can do the same,” Sanders told NPR in an interview on Tuesday.
“This is not complicated,” Sanders continued. “The American people are familiar with Medicare. By and large it’s quite a popular program. But it starts now when you are 65 years of age. God didn’t create 65 years of age for being the eligibility rate. It should be available for every single person in this country.”
It’s no surprise that Sanders is pushing forth this legislation, as he has been a long time supporter of the “single payer” system. His proposed plan was a huge part of his left-wing grassroots campaign throughout the 2016 Democratic primaries. As progressives seek to expand their agenda in a Congress that is overwhelmingly conservative, now may be the right time to put forth their vision for the future of U.S. healthcare.
“There are signs that support for a government-run healthcare system is spreading,” Lauren Gambino writes. “A survey published in June by the Pew Research Center found that a growing share of Americans support a universal healthcare system. Among all Americans, 33% support a single-payer approach to healthcare, up five points since a January survey and 12 points since March 2014.”
Support among progressives is higher, she continues, and rising drastically. “In January, 43% of Democrats said they supported a single-payer healthcare system, according to the study. By June, that number rose to 52%.”
It’s also rumored that Sanders has support from his colleagues–a sharp contrast from the last time he introduced this kind of legislation in 2015, with no co-sponsors. Last week, outspoken Democrats like Elizabeth Warren and Kristen Gillibrand have agreed that this is the next step for American healthcare.
Still, it looks as though the fight for universal healthcare coverage will be an uphill one–a prospect which Sanders and team are well aware of.
“Let me be clear,” Sanders wrote in an email to supporters of his proposition, “this will be an enormously difficult and prolonged struggle, and one which will require the efforts of tens of millions of Americans in every state in this country.”
As Sanders is often quoted as stating, single payer healthcare may require a significant “political revolution” led by the American people.