Gil­li­brand will fight aside Bernie

New York sen­a­tor backs San­ders’ ‘sin­gle-payer’ health sys­tem

USA TODAY International Edition - - NEWS - Ni­cole Gau­di­ano

WASH­ING­TON Sen. Kirsten Gil­li­brand, of­ten named as a po­ten­tial Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, an­nounced her sup­port on Tues­day for Sen. Bernie San­ders’ forth­com­ing leg­is­la­tion to cre­ate a “sin­gle-payer,” govern­ment-run health care sys­tem.

The New Yorker be­comes the eighth Demo­cratic sen­a­tor to pub­licly an­nounce her sup­port for the “Medi­care-For-All Act of 2017,” a move that that strength­ens her pro­gres­sive bona fides if she were to de­cide to run in a Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial pri­mary.

San­ders, who gen­er­ated a huge lib­eral fol­low­ing dur­ing his 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, has in­tro­duced sin­gle-payer health care leg­is­la­tion three times and has never had a co-spon­sor.

The bill he will in­tro­duce Wed­nes­day in­cludes a pro­vi­sion Gil­li­brand wrote to al­low Amer­i­cans to buy into a not-for-profit pub­lic health in­sur­ance plan dur­ing the four-year tran­si­tion pe­riod to a sin­gle-payer sys­tem, a fed­er­ally ad­min­is­tered pro­gram that would elim­i­nate the role of pri­vate in­sur­ers in ba­sic health care cov­er­age.

Gil­li­brand said she’ll be “fight­ing with Bernie” to give “ev­ery Amer­i­can ac­cess to af­ford­able, good-qual­ity health care.”

“As I’ve been trav­el­ing around New York, the No. 1 thing I keep hear­ing from New York­ers is that peo­ple are very wor­ried that their health care is still too ex­pen­sive,” Gil­li­brand said in a state­ment. “Un­der the health care sys­tem we have now, too many in­sur­ance com­pa­nies con­tinue to value their prof­its more than they value the peo­ple they are sup­posed to be help­ing. It’s time for some­thing bet­ter.”

Other se­na­tors who have al­ready pub­licly an­nounced their sup­port in­clude a who’s-who in

“In­sur­ance com­pa­nies value prof­its more than the peo­ple they are sup­posed to be help­ing.” Sen. Kirsten Gil­li­brand, D -N.Y.

pro­gres­sive pol­i­tics: Sens. Elizabeth War­ren and Ed Markey of Mas­sachusetts, Shel­don White­house of Rhode Is­land, Ka­mala Har­ris of Cal­i­for­nia, Jeff Merkley of Ore­gon, Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Cory Booker of New Jersey.

Their sup­port raises the pos­si­bil­ity that more than one Demo­cratic can­di­date in 2020 will have an­nounced sup­port for a sin­gle­payer sys­tem. Along with San­ders and Gil­li­brand, War­ren, Har­ris and Booker also are con­sid­ered pos­si­ble pres­i­den­tial con­tenders.

“Health care should be an Amer­i­can right, not a mark of eco­nomic sta­tus out of reach to many just be­cause they don’t make enough money,” Booker wrote in a Medium post Mon­day.

San­ders made sin­gle-payer leg­is­la­tion a fo­cal point of his 2016 pres­i­den­tial pri­mary bid against Hil­lary Clin­ton. Dur­ing their cam­paign, Clin­ton ques­tioned how he’d pay for his pro­posal and said she wanted to de­fend and build on the progress made by the Af­ford­able Care Act. She ac­cused him dur­ing a de­bate of want­ing to “tear (the ACA) up and start over again,” a claim he re­jected.

While San­ders has de­fended the Af­ford­able Care Act, he has long said the way for­ward is a “Medi­care-For-All” ap­proach.

Repub­li­cans point to an Ur­ban Institute study of San­ders’ cam­paign pro­posal for sin­gle-payer that says it would in­crease fed­eral ex­pen­di­tures by $32 tril­lion over 10 years, though a San­ders aide says the forth­com­ing bill will cost less than the cam­paign plan.

The is­sue di­vides Democrats, with cen­trists pre­fer­ring to fo­cus on pre­serv­ing Oba­macare.

But sup­port for a sin­gle-payer sys­tem is grow­ing, with 33% of the pub­lic fa­vor­ing the ap­proach to health in­sur­ance com­pared with 21% in 2014, a Pew Re­search Cen­ter Poll found in June.

In the House, a record 117 Democrats have signed onto the sin­gle-payer bill by Rep. John Cony­ers of Michi­gan.


Sen. Kirsten Gil­li­brand, D-N.Y., is the eighth Demo­crat to sup­port Sen. Bernie San­ders’ bill for sin­gle-payer health care.


Sen. Bernie San­ders, I-Vt., cam­paigned on the idea of a sin­gle-payer health care sys­tem while run­ning for pres­i­dent.

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