Senator Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire, 2015 (Michael Vadon/Flickr)
In her recently announced healthcare proposal, Senator Elizabeth Warren states she will not fight for Medicare for All in the first two years of her term if she wins the 2020 election. Instead, her plan is to pass a means-tested public option, preserving private insurance companies.
That means there is only one presidential candidate committed to fighting for Medicare for All from day one in office: Senator Bernie Sanders. Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) has endorsed Sanders in part because we know he is the only candidate willing to go to war with insurance corporations and drug companies, while building a grassroots movement for Medicare for All.
Warren has been inconsistent on the subject of healthcare. But now, with the release of her plan for “transitioning to Medicare for All,” single-payer advocates have definitive proof that Warren is not committed to Sanders’s popular healthcare policy. Warren’s complicated proposal effectively cuts Sanders’s bill into two separate pieces of legislation. Only after creating a public option—years into her potential term—does Warren say she will take up the fight for a single-payer healthcare system. Such an approach will only serve to divide our movement and weaken our credibility in this fight for the health, dignity and lives of our loved ones, friends and neighbors.
Despite Warren’s claims, a public option is not a pathway to single-payer. Its means-tested design will pit working people against one another, leaving it vulnerable to right-wing attacks. It also allows our primary political opponents and private insurance companies to continue profiting while lobbying against a truly single-payer healthcare system. Healthcare costs will continue to skyrocket and millions of Americans will continue to be denied treatment that their doctors prescribe.
Sanders, on the other hand, will not compromise on Medicare for All. His fight for single-payer will begin on his first day in office, and it will not conclude until we win. During this historic election, we need all hands on deck for a true Medicare for All system—nothing less. The United States needs a clear alternative to Trump premised on generous, universal social programs that speak specifically to the needs of the diverse working class.
With Sanders running for president in 2020, we have a real opportunity to present such an alternative, and to build the mass movement needed to win.