“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 said to huge applause at a town hall in Oakland. “It’s just the right thing to do. Somebody should tell my staff,” she joked.
“This should not be a partisan issue,” Harris continued, addressing the crowd. “It shouldn’t even be a bipartisan issue, it should be a nonpartisan issue.”
The Medicare for All bill would create a national health insurance system and is seen as symbolic at this stage, signaling that Democrats should prioritize the issue. Harris had previously supported the concept of single-payer health care but hadn’t endorsed any particular bill.
The senator, already seen as a potential contender for the presidency in 2020, also framed the issue as a sensible one from a financial perspective.
“It’s also about being smart,” Harris continued. “It’s so much better people have meaningful access to affordable health care at every stage from birth on because the alternative is we as taxpayers otherwise are paying huge amounts of money for them to get their health care in an emergency room. It’s not only about what’s morally and ethically right; it also just makes sense from a fiscal standpoint or a return on investment for taxpayers.”
Harris joins a growing chorus of Democrats who have endorsed the idea of universal health care coverage since Sanders championed the issue on the campaign trail and into 2017. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have similarly voiced support on the issue.
It became a rallying cry, viewed by some as a potential litmus test, for Democrats in the wake of the defeat of Affordable Care Act repeal.
“Thank you @KamalaHarris for your support. Let’s make health care a right, not a privilege,” Sanders responded on Twitter.