This month Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., introduced legislation that would make Medicare available to every American — a tentpole policy proposal of his upstart 2016 presidential campaign.
But perhaps more noteworthy than the single payer proposal itself was the number of Democratic co-sponsors Sanders was able to attract to the bill. The day Sanders introduced the measure, possible presidential hopefuls Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts were among the 16 Democrats already signed on.
Not every Democrat is on board. Florida’s Democratic Senator, Bill Nelson, has not said he would support a single payer bill.
Whether or not to expand government health care programs is sure to become a point of contention in Democratic primaries all over the country as the 2018 election cycle ramps up.
We asked each of the declared Florida Democratic candidates for governor — and one likely candidate — where he or she stands on the issue. Here is what they said:
Andrew Gillum, Mayor of Tallahassee:
“The Graham-Cassidy bill has met the same fate as all the previous attacks on Obamacare, but we should call it what it was from Day One: a dangerous attack on our fundamental right to health care. As we move forward with ensuring every American has affordable health care coverage, I stand with Senator Sanders “Medicare for All” proposal. It moves us closer to affordable healthcare as a right for everyone in Florida and this country, and I’m proud to support it. For two decades, Florida’s elected leaders have shrunk from the great challenges facing our state, including an uninsured rate today that is 45 percent higher than the national average. We’re near the bottom in health care affordability, and too many of our children do not receive the care they need to thrive.
“Moving to this system will help us finally address these long-term issues by reining in costs and wasteful spending, while ensuring our seniors still get the high-quality care they deserve. Too many Floridians cannot afford the health care they need – from routine preventative care to prescription drugs – and “Medicare for All” will make this critical care more affordable for them. In the process, we’ll create a more robust healthcare economy to put more Floridians to work at good-paying jobs.
“When I’m Governor, we will finally take the challenge of healthcare head on and make affordable health care a right and a reality for every Floridian.”
Gwen Graham, former U.S. Rep.:
“In Congress, I was proud to vote against every Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Democrats are the only party putting forward real healthcare solutions and Senator Sanders’ proposal is rightfully part of that discussion at the federal level. But we can’t wait on Washington to act, which is why as governor of Florida, one of my top priorities will be creating an affordable statewide public option to expand coverage and lower costs.”
Chris King, entrepreneur:
“I believe affordable health care is a right of every American. We need to do more to expand coverage and reduce costs to be true to our values. With a Republican Congress and President Medicare for all is not going to become federal law. Nationally we need to focus squarely on defeating attempts to destroy the Affordable Care Act, and we must press for bipartisan solutions to strengthen it. Here in Florida we have made a tremendous mistake in bypassing Medicaid expansion under the ACA. As governor I will work vigorously to correct that mistake as a vital first step in ensuring every Floridian quality, affordable coverage.”
Philip Levine, Mayor of Miami Beach and likely candidate:
“As an entrepreneur, I believe access to affordable health care coverage is paramount. We need more leaders working together to fix the Affordable Care Act and allow states to maximize opportunities that expand coverage for Floridians.”
This post was updated at 4:25 to include Levine’s response.