When Medicare was created 53 years ago this month, it was over the objections of Ronald Reagan. On behalf of the American Medical Association, Reagan warned that should Medicare become law, it would lead to “a mechanism for national health insurance capable of indefinite expansion in every direction until it includes the entire population.”
More than five decades of frustration later, advocates are still fighting to make Reagan’s “nightmare” of universal health care a reality. The recent formation of the Medicare for All Caucus by House progressives could prove to be an important development in this pursuit, according to members and advocates who introduced the new caucus at a press conference on July 19.
“We are united today by a common conviction that health care is a human right,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal during the launch. “One of the best ways to ensure health care for all is to use the system that already exists for millions of seniors [in] Medicare.”
Jayapal founded the new caucus with Reps. Debbie Dingell and Keith Ellison. The caucus had 66 founding members at the 10 am press conference, but by midday that number was 70, according to a list provided to Truthout by Dingell’s office.
The California Nurses Association, National Nurses United, Public Citizen, Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), Health Care-Now, Our Revolution and other organizations were also supportive.
“For the first time ever, we have a congressional caucus that is committed to achieving Medicare for All,” said Martese Chism, a registered nurse and board member of the California Nurses Association, who spoke at the launch.
Others praised what they see as an important shift in how to tackle the issue.
The new caucus “clearly marks a shift in congressional approach to Medicare for All from more passive support to laying the groundwork for potential passage of this legislation, depending on how the makeup of Congress shakes out in the coming years,” said…