As Bernie Sanders and the rest of the 2,020 Democrats running for president in a few years (including, some believe, Kirsten Gillibrand) gathered in Washington to support Sanders's Medicare-for-all bill today, Chuck Schumer, New York's senior senator and the Democratic Minority Leader, remains non-committal on the idea of single-payer health care.
When asked for his views on the Sanders bill, a spokesperson for Schumer referred Gothamist to comments the senator made yesterday at a press gathering: "Well look, Democrats believe that healthcare is a right for all. And there are many different bills out there—there are many good ones. Senator Sanders has a bill, Senator Schatz has a bill on Medicaid buy in, Senator Stabenow, who’s here, has a bill on buy in for Medicare, Senator Whitehouse has a bill on public option. We want to move the issue forward looking at all of these."
Hawaii's Senator Brian Schatz is pitching a plan allowing people to buy in to Medicare through state insurance exchanges if the states agree to allow it, though the plan got mixed reviews from health insurance policy experts. Michigan's Debbie Stabenow's bill would allow Americans to buy in to Medicare starting at age 55, and Rhode Island's Sheldon Whitehouse has pitched adding a public option to ACA marketplaces.
Those three bills would each keep an existing private insurance infrastructure alive in the United States, unlike Sanders's bill. And while Schumer isn't a definitive "no" on single-payer at the moment, his comment stands in stark contrast to Kirsten Gillibrand, who was pegged as a co-sponsor of the measure earlier this week. When she announced her support of Sanders's bill, Gillibrand tweeted that health care is "a right and not a privilege."
Health care is a right, not a privilege. This week, I'll proudly join Senator @BernieSanders to co-sponsor Medicare for All.
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) September 12, 2017