Should House Progressives #ForceTheVote on Medicare for All?

It is a moral outrage that 88% of Democrats and 69% of all voters support Medicare for All, yet Democratic Party leadership in Congress has refused to fight for it, particularly during a pandemic that has resulted in millions losing their jobs and health insurance.

When the 2021 legislative session begins in January, House Progressives should use every ounce of power and every inch of leverage they have to win deep relief for the American working class. During a pandemic, that must include free, universal, comprehensive single-payer health care, such as that described in the Medicare for All Act of 2019 and the Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act. We call on the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) to be direct, confrontational, hard-lined, and disciplined about Medicare for All in the battles to come over incremental, unsatisfactory healthcare reform efforts.

But we also recognize that Speaker Pelosi alone can’t deliver us a floor vote. The Medicare for All bill in the House needs to pass through six Committees’ jurisdiction, and it currently lacks financing language (i.e. how to pay for it), so it’s not a bill that can be voted on yet. This is why getting the bill out of committee has been one of DSA’s priorities. Over the past few years, working with other national and local groups, we’ve succeeded in pressuring chairs to hold the first hearings on Medicare for All in the Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, Rules, and Budget committees. These hearings were historic; the first ever on Medicare for All legislation.

We’re about to reintroduce the bill next session with another record number of cosponsors — several of whom DSA chapters have played a direct role in flipping to our side. But without a majority of Democratic Representatives cosponsoring, and many of the progressive members shut out of powerful House committees, we simply don’t have the leverage right now to force it through for a floor vote. Even if we had all these things, we know that elected officials will never respond to our demands unless we organize our class to fight for them, not just in DSA but in the labor movement too.

In order to move towards Medicare for All, we need to be vocal and unyielding about the moral urgency of this moment, and we need to be laser focused on preparing ourselves to meet it in every chapter of DSA. Ultimately, the CPC does not answer to the progressive movement writ large. They answer to organized people in their districts. Preparing ourselves for the fights to come means forming tight socialist voting blocs in every district; building our diverse base with deep political education; organizing rank-and-file workers to bring their unions into the fight; confronting corporate power and dismantling the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future; and building durable organizational power in DSA nationally and locally.

We are socialists, and we are organizers, so we know that there are no shortcuts to liberation. In the fight to euthanize the private health insurance industry and bring 1/5 of the economy under public control we are up against the most well-funded opposition of any reform in American history. We must be sure that we are organizing with a long-term strategy to build our power. Read DSA’s 2021 strategy guide for building the movement to win Medicare for All. Sign up here to get connected with a DSA M4A Regional Organizer and join the fight for Medicare for All. And if you are a healthcare worker, sign up here to join the DSA Health Workers Collective!