Ellison Becomes Lead House Sponsor of Medicare For All
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Keith Ellison today won unanimous consent from his colleagues to assume leadership of former Rep. John Conyers’ historic single-payer health care bill, “The Expanded And Improved Medicare For All Act” (H.R. 676) as its lead sponsor. The bill, first introduced in 2003 with 25 cosponsors, would expand Medicare to become a publicly-financed national health care system that guarantees coverage to every single American through a modest new payroll tax, a financial transaction tax, and tax increases on the wealthiest households. H.R. 676 today has the support of 121 cosponsors and a similar bill in the Senate, led by Sen. Bernie Sanders, is backed by 17 senators.
“I’m honored to be charged by my colleagues with carrying on the legacy of John Conyers’ historic bill to establish health care as a right,” said Rep. Keith Ellison. “Every year, more and more Americans rightly question why the United States spends so much more on health care than any other industrialized nation in the world, yet still forces people to choose between paying their health care bills and putting food on the table. This is an idea whose time has come, and it is a crucial lynchpin in our fight for fairness and economic justice.”
“I am excited to have Keith take the lead in the House on the fight to pass a Medicare-for-all health care system,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders. “With his leadership, I know that we will be able to take on the greed of the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries and finally join every other major country in guaranteeing health care as a right, not a privilege.”
“I congratulate my friend and colleague Keith Ellison for taking over leadership of H.R. 676 and the fight for Medicare for All,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky. “John Conyers championed this effort throughout his career, not just in the halls of Congress but across the country. As co-chair of the Seniors Task Force, I know how vital Medicare is for seniors and people with disabilities, and I believe the time has come for all Americans to have access to the health care security Medicare provides. Keith Ellison will help us turn that vision into reality. I know that he will not stop organizing until every person in our country is able to get the quality health care they need at a price that they can afford. I will be with him every step of the way.”
“It is time for America to transition away from a health system that is centered around private insurance companies reaping profit off of sickness,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva. “All Americans deserve access to preventative care and should never have to worry about an illness bankrupting their family. Medicare for All can provide the security and quality health care that they need once and for all. Under Congressman Ellison’s leadership, the movement for a single payer health care system will be stronger than ever, and I am proud to stand by my friend in the fight to recognize the right of all Americans to live healthy lives.”
“Congressman Ellison has long fought to expand access to affordable, lifesaving care and he strongly believes that health care must be a human right, grounded in justice, access, and dignity – not profit,” said Rep. Mark Pocan. “Congressman Ellison is the right choice to lead the fight on Medicare for All and build support in Congress to make this bill a law. Along with the millions of Americans calling on Congress to fix our nation’s broken health care system, we can make Medicare for All a reality and ensure that health care is a right for all Americans, not just the privileged few.”
“We spend more on health care than any other country in the world – and yet, some Americans are just one health care crisis away from complete bankruptcy. This is unacceptable. We need universal health care that ensures every American has access to the care they need, " said Rep. Pramila Jayapal. “I’m so proud to join my good friend Keith Ellison, as he leads the fight for Medicare for All in the House. This is not merely a “progressive” dream. Countries around the world have shown that government funded health care works in delivering quality, affordable and accessible health care to all – and saves us money as we improve health care for all. I urge my colleagues to join us. Let’s get this done.”
“Health care is a fundamental human right,” said Rep. Barbara Lee. “In the richest nation on Earth, no parent should have to choose between paying the bills and taking their sick child to the doctor. That’s why I’m proud to cosponsor Medicare For All legislation. At the end of the day, it is patients – not corporate profits – that should come first.”
“The simple fact is, it’s long past time that we instituted a single-payer, ‘Medicare for All’ system that provides everyone with affordable, top-quality health care,” said Rep. Rick Nolan. “Advanced nations with universal health care systems pay far less than we do and achieve better health outcomes, as measured by life expectancy and infant mortality. As one of the first champions of single payer legislation more than 30 years ago, I am proud to support this bill, and I will keep fighting to ensure that every American has access to the high-quality care they deserve.”
“National Nurses United commends Representative Keith Ellison for taking over the lead sponsorship of HR 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act,” said Jean Ross, co-president of National Nurses United. “Representative Ellison has long been a leader in the fight for a single payer, Medicare for All health care system, and we are looking forward to working with him to finally win guaranteed healthcare for all people living in the United States. As registered nurses, we see the horrific impacts of our for-profit health insurance system everyday at the hospital bedside. Too many patients can’t afford the care they need – millions of Americans go without preventative care or lifesaving medications because they don’t have insurance or can’t afford the copays. We see the devastation this system causes for so many families when patients lose their lives from preventable illness and injury. As nurses, we have a duty to advocate for our patients – and we know that Medicare for All is the best solution for our patients.”
"The crushing cost of health care is the top financial problem facing American families, who often postpone or avoid needed care because of cost," said Dr. Carol Paris, a Nashville-based psychiatrist and president of Physicians for a National Health Program, a nonprofit research and education organization of more than 22,000 doctors and health professionals. "We applaud Rep. Ellison's leadership on H.R. 676, which would provide medically necessary care to everyone in America for a fraction of the cost of our current system."
“We know that the richest country in history can afford to provide guaranteed health care to all of its people because every other wealthy country already does so,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “It’s long past time for the United States to adopt a single-payer, Medicare-for-All system that will cover every American as a matter of right. Rep. Ellison is ready to fight for Medicare-for-All so that we can finally join the rest of the industrialized world in guaranteeing health care to everyone.”
“We congratulate Rep. Ellison for taking the lead on the Medicare for All bill, and encourage all Members, regardless of party affiliation or political ideology, to take another look at the model followed in some way, shape, or form by the rest of the industrialized world,” said Richard Master, Board Member of Business Initiative for Health Policy and CEO of MCS Industries. “Without partisan blinders, they will see that the elimination of wasteful middlemen and administrative complexity in our healthcare system will be a boon to our businesses, workers, and economy.”
H.R. 676 has been introduced in Congress since 2003, and has a broad base of support among health care activists, organized labor, physicians, nurses, and social justice organizations across the nation. The bill has been endorsed by 26 international unions, Physicians For A National Health Program, two former editors of the New England Journal of Medicine, National Nurses United, the American Medical Students Association, Progressive Democrats of America, and the NAACP.
For text of The Expanded and Improved Medicare For All Act, click here.