By Jack Crowe
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi declined to endorse Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ single payer health care bill Tuesday, insisting on prioritizing Obamacare reform instead.
Pelosi’s refusal to back Sanders’ “Medicare For All” bill, which he is expected to unveil Wednesday, places her at odds with a growing coalition of prominent senators within her party who have publicly endorsed single payer health care as a “right.”
“I don’t think it’s a litmus test,” Pelosi told The Washington Post. “I think to support the idea that it captures is that we want to have as many people as possible, everybody, covered, and I think that’s something that we all embrace.”
Pelosi called for Democrats to reprioritize Obamacare reform before making the more politically ambitious move toward single payer.
“Right now I’m protecting the Affordable Care Act,” Pelosi told reporters outside of her office on Capitol Hill. “None of these things, whether it’s Bernie’s or others, can really prevail unless we protect the Affordable Care Act.”
Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California and Jeff Merkley of Oregon have all offered to co-sponsor Sanders’ legislation. The group represents a collection of the party’s most recognizable and politically well-positioned figures, all of whom are in the running for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination.
If passed, Sanders’ bill would ensure that all Americans, not just those over 65, are eligible to enroll in Medicare.
While progressive leaders within her party are moving further to the left on health care, Pelosi insists on incremental reform with the belief that single payer legislation cannot be politically viable until Democrats address the opposition’s Obamacare gripes.
Pelosi’s office did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment in time for publication.
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