Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) recently rolled out his official Medicare for All bill that would establish a single-payer healthcare system in the U.S., and with the support of more than a dozen of his Senate colleagues.
However, 33 of his fellow Senate Democrats (including one independent who caucuses with Democrats) are not yet on board as co-sponsors of the legislation. In order to even have a chance of even getting a filibuster-proof floor vote (invoking cloture) under the Senate’s strict rules, the bill needs 60 votes, meaning the legislation is essentially dead-on-arrival even if all Senate Democrats (and even a few Republicans) supported it.
Still, there is widespread support for Medicare for All among Americans in numerous polls. A Reuters poll in August of 2018 found that 70% of Americans were in support of the idea, including nearly 52% of Republicans. More recently, a January Harvard-Harris poll found that 68% of Americans believed that creating “a taxpayer-funded national [health] plan, like Medicare for All” should be a top priority for the 116th Congress.
Sanders’ latest legislation is even more ambitious than other 2020 candidates’ healthcare proposals. In Sanders’ bill, the for-profit private health insurance industry would be eliminated and replaced with a government-funded national single-payer healthcare plan. Medicare for All would fully cover all primary care, hospital stays, and prescription drugs for every single American. While taxes will increase slightly to pay for the plan, the vast majority of Americans would see a cost savings. Currently, employer-sponsored family plans eat up almost a third of Americans’ household income, on average.
The strong support for universal healthcare among both Democrats and Republicans is a stark contrast to that of Senate Democrats. As Grit Post reported last year in reference to Sanders’ previous Medicare for All bill, more Republican voters as a percentage supported Medicare for All than Senate Democrats. In October of 2018, there were 17 Democratic co-sponsors on the bill out of the 49 Democrats who were in the Senate at the time, meaning less than 35% of Senators affiliated with the Democratic Party supported a proposal that 84% of Democrats and a slim majority of Republicans supported.
Sanders just introduced his bill last week, meaning some of the Democrats who have yet to co-sponsor the legislation may end up doing so in the future. However, the pharmaceutical and for-profit health insurance industries that donate to federal campaigns stand to lose out on significant profits if Sanders’ Medicare for All plan comes to fruition, meaning their campaign spending in the 2020 cycle may be just as, if not more aggressive. According to the latest campaign finance data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, these 33 Democrats have received a total of $36,805,381 from those industries throughout the course of their careers.
In order to come up with these donation amounts, Grit Post analyzed contributions from the pharmaceuticals/health products and insurance industries for each senator as shown on OpenSecrets.org. In the event an industry didn’t make a senator’s top 20 industries in donation totals, we expanded the field to 100, and totaled amounts from each individual two-year election cycle. We also included notations for the pharma or insurance industries ranking as a top five industry for any senator.
Type ctrl+f (or command+f on Mac) and type your senator’s name to see if they made this list.
1. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado)
2. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)
3. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington)
4. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland)
5. Senator Tom Carper (D-Delaware)
Insurance is #2 donor
Pharma is #5 donor
6. Senator Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania)
7. Senator Chris Coons (D-Delaware)
8. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada)
9. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois)
10. Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Illinois)
11. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California)
12. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire)
13. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico)
14. Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama)
15. Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia)
16. Senator Angus King (I-Maine)*
*caucuses with Democrats
17. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota)
18. Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia)
19. Senator Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey)
20. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut)
21. Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington)
22. Senator Gary Peters (D-Michigan)
23. Senator Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island)
Insurance is #4 donor
24. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-Nevada)
25. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York)
Insurance is #4 donor
26. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire)
27. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona)
28. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minnesota)
29. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan)
30. Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana)
31. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland)
32. Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia)
33. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon)
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.