Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), one of the highest-ranking Democrats, on Wednesday backed Medicare for All.
Jeffries, the Democrat Caucus chair, became the second-highest ranking House Democrat to back the single-payer Medicare for All program, Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), the assistant speaker, endorsed Medicare for All in June.
The New York Democrat’s endorsement of Medicare for All serves as an important milestone in the Democrat’s move toward single-payer healthcare. While Luján is reportedly considering running for Senate, Jeffries has been seen as a future leader of the House Democrats after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) retires.
Rep. Jeffries also backed Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (D-WA) Medicare for All bill, while endorsing more moderate public option approaches such as “Medicare X.”
Half of House Democrats have endorsed Medicare for All, which serves as a symbolic representation of the split between the more moderate Democrats who want to improve the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the more progressive Democrats that want Medicare for All.
Despite the bill’s popularity in the House Democrat caucus, Medicare for All could have staggering implications for America’s large health insurance industry.
Rep. Jayapal admitted in May roughly one million health insurance workers could get “displaced” under her Medicare for All legislation.
“There a lot of people who work in the private insurance industry, we have thought very carefully about how we take care of those folks, because we think they are very important. And so, there’s about a million people that we think will get displaced if Medicare for All happens.”
Jeffries said Democrats are “united behind the principle of universal access to high quality and affordable healthcare for all.”
House Speaker Pelosi and the other remaining top House Democrats have declines to back Medicare for All and instead focused on improving Obamacare.
“There are several pathways to achieve this objective, including implementation of a single-payer system or the adoption of a robust public option,” Jeffries said.