Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) drew praise from medical professionals and fellow lawmakers on Wednesday after becoming the new lead sponsor of H.R. 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act.
“America needs universal, single payer healthcare,” Ellison, who is deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), declared on House floor.
Despite spending more “per person on healthcare than any other nation in the world,” he continued, “we still have tens of millions of uninsured. We have the highest infant mortality rate of any wealthy nation on Earth. And we are last—last—in life expectancy among wealthy countries.”
“The money that we’re spending on healthcare, it isn’t going to the patients. It isn’t going to the surgeons. It isn’t even going to the pharmaceutical industries. The insurance industries who are raking in record profits every day are the major beneficiaries of our policy,” he said.
The legislation was first—and repeatedly—introduced by former Rep. John Conyers of Michigan. It now boasts 121 co-sponsors, which means that though it’s backed by nearly 63 percent of House Democrats, 72 Democrats in the chamber have yet to get behind it. It would be funded through an increase on the personal income taxes of the top 5 percent of income earners, a new payroll tax, and a financial transaction tax.
“This is an idea whose time has come, and it is a crucial linchpin in our fight for fairness and economic justice,” Ellison added it a press statement.
Bolstering Ellison’s assertion that now’s the time, a recent survey from the Commonwealth Fund found that 92 percent of working-age adults think affordable healthcare is a right, and a Harvard-Harris poll from September found that a majority of Americans back a single-payer healthcare system.
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