Kamala Harris to Co-Sponsor Bernie Sanders' Medicare-for-All Bill

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaking to reporters after her town hall meeting Wednesday night. (Screen shot via The Sacramento Bee)

By Jake Johnson / Common Dreams

At a town hall Wednesday night in Oakland, California, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) announced that she will co-sponsor Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) Medicare-for-All legislation, which is reportedly set to be introduced mid-September.

“I’ll break some news: I intend to co-sponsor the Medicare-for-All bill because it’s just the right thing to do,” Harris, the first Senate Democrat to publicly endorse Sanders’s legislation, told an audience of around 700 people at the Beebe Memorial Cathedral church.

Harris added in an interview with the Sacramento Bee that “there’s certainly momentum and energy around” single payer.

The crowd reportedly “roared and cheered in applause” as Harris—who is viewed as a likely 2020 presidential candidate—made the announcement.

Support for Medicare for All among the American public has soared since the Republicans began their effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. A recent AP/NORC poll found that 62 percent of the public believes it is “the federal government’s responsibility to make sure that all Americans have healthcare coverage.”

In the face of this grassroots enthusiasm and pressure, “the Democratic Party has moved swiftly to the left on healthcare,” notes Vox‘s Jeff Stein. “Most key 2020 contenders—including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.J.), and Corey Booker (D-N.J.)—have said they support the idea of single payer without necessarily backing Sanders’ bill or an existing bill. More than half of House Democrats now support Rep. John Conyers’ (D-Mich.) single-payer bill—a historic high.”

In Harris’s home state of California, the executive board of the Democratic Party voted unanimously earlier this week to endorse SB 562, the Healthy California Act.

“Thank you Kamala Harris for your support,” Sanders wrote on Twitter as news of Harris’s announcement broke. “Let’s make healthcare a right, not a privilege.”

Jake Johnson / Common Dreams

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