More Than Two-Thirds of Obamacare Cosponsors Now Backing Medicare for All Proposal

Tim Zelina and Frank Bass | July 23, 2019

Twelve of the current 17 House members who cosponsored the landmark 2009 measure known as Obamacare have signed on as cosponsors of legislation that would create a universal health-care system, according to a MapLight analysis.

The five incumbent House Democrats who cosponsored Obamacare  but who have declined to endorse a “Medicare-for-All” proposal have received an average of $209,000 in campaign contributions since 2011 from the 10 largest U.S. health-care companies, their employees, and five major trade associations. The dozen cosponsors have received an average of $65,000 from the industry.

The disparity highlights the importance of moderate and conservative Democrats to the health-care industry, which has united against proposals to ensure that the United States guarantees health coverage for all citizens. The U.S. remains the only wealthy nation that doesn’t offer universal health care, despite health-care costs that have more than tripled over the last two decades. About $3.5 trillion, or $1 of every $5 spent in the U.S. is spent for health care.

The future of the U.S. health-care system, which has higher costs and worse outcomes than other industrialized nations, has emerged as a flashpoint for the 2020 presidential election. A majority of Americans and most leading Democratic presidential candidates -- with the exception of former Vice President Joe Biden -- favor a universal health-care system. The Democratic congressional leadership, however, has been reluctant to endorse such proposals for fear of an electoral backlash, similar to the 2010 midterm elections that saw Democrats lose 63 House seats in the wake of the passage of Obamacare. Meanwhile, the Republican Senate majority and President Trump have focused on dismantling Obamacare with no plan for insuring the 20 million additional Americans who have obtained health insurance since 2010.

The amounts received by the five Medicare-for-All holdouts -- Reps. Joe Courtney, D-Conn.; Ron Kind, D-Wisc.; John Larson, D-Conn.; Richard Neal, D-Mass.; and Bill Pascrell, Jr., D-N.J. -- were more than double the average of $92,000 in industry money received by Republican incumbents.

The Medicare-for-All measure, which was introduced in February by Rep. Pramilia Jayapal, D-Wash., is cosponsored by 117 of the 235 House Democrats. None of the chamber’s 197 Republican members are cosponsoring the legislation.


This story was produced by MapLight and published in partnership with Fast Company.