The single-payer health care plan known as "Medicare-for-all" now enjoys support from more than half of Democrats in the House of Representatives, with top-ranking Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., adding his name to the list of co-sponsors.
The bill, introduced in February by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., calls for the replacement of private health insurance with a government plan covering everyone. Jeffries became the 118th co-sponsor.
“Given the enduring nature of our health care access and affordability crisis, more must be done,” Jeffries, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said in a statement to The Washington Post.
Jayapal celebrated Jeffries’ support the day before his name officially was added to the sponsor list, tweeting that it is “a huge step in the fight for #MedicareForAll!”
The widespread support in the caucus underscores how quickly the party has embraced the costly policy, popular with the progressive base, since the last presidential election.
When she introduced the bill in February, Jayapal described it as “a complete transformation of our health care system where there are no private insurance companies that provide these core benefits,” saying it would be “universal care, everybody in, nobody out.” At the time, the bill immediately drew support from 106 Democrats.
Since then, another 12 have added their names, with Jeffries being the latest.
The bill would virtually do away with private insurance by making it illegal for private companies to provide the same coverage as the public plan. Jayapal predicted that by doing away with private insurance plans, approximately 1 million people who work for insurance companies would lose their jobs.
“We have thought carefully about how we’d take care of those folks because we think those people are very important," Jayapal said during a May town hall at American University.
"We have set aside one percent a year of the total cost of the bill for five years to take care of a transition for employees in the private insurance sector," she explained. "If they are able to retire, that might be one, pension guarantees, job training so they can move into a different system."
A Senate version of “Medicare-for-all” has been pushed by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
Candidates have split over just how far they are willing to go when it comes to socialized health care. Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., favor a public system that abolishes private insurance, while others such as Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg have called for keeping private options for those who prefer to keep their existing plans.