KHN Morning Briefing

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As Sanders Preps ‘Medicare For All’ Plan, Some Dems Scramble To Back It While Others Keep Distance

The measure is forcing Democrats to take a stand on the issue, which has become popular with progressive voters but may be politically risky with others.

The Associated Press: Sanders, GOP Push Banner Health Care Bills
Liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders is ready to unveil his bill for creating a system where the government provides health insurance for everybody. Republican senators are ready to release details of a last-ditch effort to repeal and replace President Barack Obama's health care law. Besides focusing on health, the rival packages have something else in common. Neither is likely going anywhere soon. (Fram, 9/13)

The Wall Street Journal: Democrats Endorse Single-Payer Health Plan
Single-payer refers to a government-run health insurance system, though details can vary. Mr. Sanders’s bill would create a national Medicare-like insurance system and eliminate most out-of-pocket costs for individuals. The surge in support rests on several factors, political analysts said, including a rise in populist sentiment and a growing acceptance of the 2010 Affordable Care Act’s principle that the government should provide coverage if necessary. Backers of a single-payer plan have also been emboldened by the faltering of the Republicans’ push to repeal the 2010 law, commonly known as Obamacare, which polls suggest grew more popular as a result. (Armour and Hackman, 9/13)

Politico: Bernie Sanders' Single-Payer Push Splits Democrats
Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, one of the few Democrats subject to 2020 speculation who has not signed on to the Sanders bill, warned against letting the party’s attention slip to “longer-term health care policy” while the future of the Affordable Care Act remains up for debate. “I think the risk is that we get distracted,” Murphy told reporters. “September’s not done. They can still ram through a repeal bill.” (Schor, 9/13)

The Hill: Democratic Leaders Keep Distance From Sanders Single-Payer Plan 
Democratic support for a single-payer health-care system has grown by bounds this year, attracting more lawmaker endorsements than any time in the past. But one group is conspicuously not on board: party leaders. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday previewed the much-anticipated release of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) “Medicare for all” bill by taking the notable step of refusing to throw their weight behind it. (Lillis, 9/12)

The Washington Post: Pelosi: Single-Payer Isn’t A Litmus Test For Democrats
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday that single-payer health insurance is not a litmus test for Democrats and that she is focused on protecting health-care coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Pelosi (D-Calif.) declined to endorse “Medicare for All” legislation backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and instead called on Democrats to release a wide range of proposals to fix and improve President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law. Her position on health care is the latest evidence that Democrats in the House are willing to ignore pressure from liberal factions aiming to drive the party further to the left. (Snell and Weigel, 9/12)

The Hill: Pelosi Declines To Endorse Sanders Single-Payer Bill 
"Right now, I’m protecting the Affordable Care Act," Pelosi told reporters Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles Times. "None of these other things, whether it’s Bernie’s [bill], can really prevail unless we have the Affordable Care Act protected." (Hellmann, 9/12)

The Hill: Schumer Noncommittal On Sanders's 'Medicare For All' Bill 
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is staying on the sidelines on a single-payer health care bill being rolled out this week by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). "Democrats believe that health care is a right for all, and there are many different bills out there. There are many good ones," Schumer told reporters during a weekly leadership press conference. (Carney, 9/12)

Bloomberg: Democrats Warm To Sanders Single-Payer Plan In Health-Care Shift
More than a dozen Senate Democrats are flirting with a single-payer health-care system, marking a shift within the party on what was once viewed as a politically treacherous issue that attracted little support from lawmakers. Thirteen senators are co-sponsoring a measure to be proposed Wednesday by Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, that would expand Medicare coverage to all Americans. That’s a significant change from 2013 when Sanders, who lost the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination to Hillary Clinton, attracted no co-sponsors. (John, 9/13)

Bloomberg: Conservative Democrat Open To Single-Payer Health System 
The Senate’s most conservative Democrat said Tuesday Congress should consider adopting a single-payer health-care system, a sign of how fast politics are shifting on what was once seen as a fringe issue on the left. "It should be explored," said West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who faces re-election next year in a state President Donald Trump carried by 42 points. "I want to know what happens in all the countries that have it -- how well it works or the challenges they have." (Kapur, 9/12)

CQ: Sanders To Unveil Single-Payer Bill To Mixed Democratic Reaction
Senators who have said they would sign on to the plan include Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.; Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass;, Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. “It’s an idea whose time is come,” Blumenthal told reporters on Tuesday. “It’s not in any way a litmus test, it’s not in any way critical of the Affordable Care Act. It’s just the next step.” (McIntire, 9/13)

The Star Tribune: Sen. Franken Comes Out For Single-Payer Health-Care Plan
Even as federal lawmakers consider short-term repairs to the Affordable Care Act, a growing number of Democrats including Sen. Al Franken are looking more long-term. The Minnesota Democrat announced Tuesday that he has signed on as a cosponsor of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” single-payer health care plan, calling health care “a right for all Americans.” (Brooks, 9/12)

Even in the states, some officials are looking at single payer proposals —

Denver Post: Democratic Candidate For Governor Proposes Medicaid-For-All Health Care Plan In Colorado 
A Democratic candidate for governor is proposing a Medicaid-for-all health care system in Colorado, endorsing a public option at the state level amid the gridlock on health care in Congress. Cary Kennedy said she wants to allow anyone on the individual market to join the Medicaid system or the state employee health care plan to provide more affordable and high-quality health care options. (Frank, 9/12)

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