WASHINGTON — Today, on the occasion of the first hearing on universal health care coverage in the 117th Congress, the Congressional Progressive Caucus celebrated this historic moment for the Medicare For All movement.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus has long championed health care as a right, not a privilege, with a history of members introducing single-payer legislation. Today’s Medicare For All Act, introduced by CPC chair Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Representative Debbie Dingell (MI-12) in both the 116th and 117th Congress, is the most comprehensive Medicare for All bill yet, providing a clear roadmap to achieving single-payer healthcare. It is co-sponsored by 120 members of Congress in the House; similar legislation was introduced in the Senate last Congress by CPC co-founder Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
For its three decades, CPC members have consistently fought to expand Medicare and access to coverage, including health care benefits for immigrants, equitable gender and LGBTQ+ inclusive coverage, lower cost premiums and prescription drugs, and abortion and reproductive health coverage. In the 116th Congress, for the first time, three committees of jurisdiction held hearings on Medicare for All and the need to expand healthcare coverage. Today’s hearing, the first on the bill in the 117th Congress, continues to build necessary momentum and education on the need for Medicare for All. We applaud the House Oversight and Reform Committee for holding this hearing.
Representative Jayapal said:
“The pandemic has made it clear now more than ever that we must guarantee health care as a human right with no copays, no deductibles, and no premiums. We need Medicare for All now, when nearly 100 million people are uninsured or underinsured in the richest nation on the planet. There’s no excuse for this broken system — where parents have to choose between taking their kid to the doctor or paying rent. Today, we take a major step forward on this critical legislation in the House Oversight Committee. The path ahead is tough, but Medicare for All is necessary, popular, and most importantly will save thousands of lives. I’m going to continue fighting to make it the law of the land.”
Progressive Caucus members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee issued the following statements:
“Americans deserve a health care system that guarantees health and medical services to all,” said Representative Cori Bush (MO-01). “Congress must implement a system that prioritizes people over profits, humanity over greed, and compassion over exploitation. The systemic racism perpetuating health inequities cannot be overstated — Black women are 3-4 times more likely to die during childbirth. We are more likely to have rates of asthma and cancer from generations living next to pollution centers. We are more likely to have foregone routine screenings and medical appointments for a real fear of having our pain dismissed. That’s why my colleagues and I are coming through in force for our first Medicare for All hearing since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This policy will save lives, I want to make that clear. I hope this hearing will be one more step forward in our commitment to ensuring everyone in this country, and particularly our Black, brown and Indigenous communities, have the medical care they need to thrive.”
“When I was a child, my hospital visits for pneumonia nearly bankrupted my parents who worked multiple jobs without health insurance. No family should ever face this situation,” said Representative Jimmy Gomez (CA-34). “The time has come when we as a nation guarantee access to quality, affordable healthcare. I’d like to thank Chairwoman Maloney for calling today’s hearing, and I thank my Congressional Progressive Caucus Colleagues for leading the charge on Medicare for All.”
“For decades, Democrats have fought to protect and expand access to health care, and at every step, Republicans try to gut our efforts,” said Representative Hank Johnson (GA-04). For us, health care is a human right. Democrats want to move towards expanding access to health care, which is essential to improving health equity. Medicare for All and Medicaid expansion are tools to help get us there. Republicans have made it clear – they want to take health care away from the millions benefitting from Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act to prioritize corporate profits over Americans’ health. Now is the time to expand access to healthcare, not cut it.”
“Universal health coverage is not optional: it’s urgent,” said Representative Ro Khanna (CA-17). “Private health insurance is a crushing tax on working families and businesses. Medicare for All would save an estimated 68,000 lives a year while reducing U.S. health care spending by billions of dollars. It’s good policy and the right thing to do."
“As Chairwoman of the Oversight Committee, I’m proud to convene today’s hearing and join with my colleagues in working to ensure that every person in the United States can access health care,” said Representative Carolyn Maloney (NY-12). “I have spent my career fighting to guarantee health care as a human right, and with Medicare for All, we have the opportunity to create a more equitable health care system that treats every person with empathy and dignity.”
“Healthcare is a fundamental human right and we must legislate accordingly,” said Representative Ayanna Pressley (MA-07). “For too long, our nation’s healthcare system, which puts profits over people, has threatened the very ability of poor, Black, brown, Indigenous, and disabled folks to live and survive in America—that must change. This historic hearing will move us one step closer to ensuring that every person has access to quality care when they need it and where they need it. We must enact Medicare for All and I am grateful to Congresswoman Maloney for holding this long overdue hearing and giving this critical legislation the attention it deserves.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the need for a comprehensive health care system that makes public health paramount. Covid showed us that every person’s health is integrally connected to everyone else’s,” said Representative Jamie Raskin (MD-08). “In the richest society in the history of our species at its richest moment, to deny our fellow Americans universal health care is to deny our common humanity. As a proud founding member of the Medicare for All Caucus, I’m committed to securing health care as a right for every American. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses at this hearing, like my friend the incomparable Ady Barkan, whose passionate, unyielding activism has helped move the needle across the country on this fundamental imperative for our people.”
"This pandemic exposed just how broken the health care system is in our country,” said Representative Rashida Tlaib (MI-13). “Millions of people across the country know that passing Medicare for All is long overdue. In the richest country, our residents should not face financial ruin, continue to be sick, or even die because they lack adequate coverage and care. We need Medicare for All now and we will not stop fighting until we have it. This hearing ignites the reality that we must act now.”
Progressive Caucus members also testified before the hearing:
“As a Member of Congress, I am more than adequately covered, can get a checkup anytime I want, and if something’s wrong, I can get treated on the spot — so many people in this country don’t have that privilege,” said Representative Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (NY-16). “Those of us who support Medicare for All believe that every single person who lives in this country should have that level of care. It’s very simple: if people knew they had exemplary health care, they would go to the doctor more. But as it stands, millions of people often skip preventive and routine care, instead waiting until they are severely ill to seek treatment. And as a Black man, I am acutely aware of the specific care needs that Black people have in our society. It is well-known, for example, that Black Americans have the highest rates of hypertension, and Black women are facing a Black maternal health crisis. Medicare for All is urgently needed and this hearing brings us one step closer toward making it a reality for all.”