Not everyone is on board with Sanders' plan. Republicans obviously aren't. A number of Democrats are waiting to digest the bill before making a decision. Former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said in an interview that she would support lowering the age needed to qualify for Medicare or Medicaid now and then suggested the U.S. could take incremental steps towards a single-payer system.
The Medicare For All Act will almost certainly not pass for several reasons, not the least of which being that Democrats don't control the House of Representatives or the Senate and there's no outline to pay for it. But it might not have to become a law as long as it becomes a path forward.
Like same-sex marriage before it and marijuana legalization currently, a single-payer healthcare system has seen a slow but steady rise in public support. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, favor for a single-payer healthcare system has risen from 40 percent in 2000 to 46 percent in 2008 to 53 percent as of June 2017. Throughout that time, fringe players like Sanders have been its greatest champions.
Now, though, several of the Democrats supporting a single-payer system are 2020 presidential hopefuls. As the failures of Obamacare are highlighted, and the failures of proposed Obamacare replacements even more so, alternatives once considered extreme are becoming mainstream. While Kaiser notes support of single-payer is "malleable" – survey respondents become less enthused when reminded of accompanying tax hikes, a hurdle Sanders' plan (and any other) will have to overcome – the Medicare For All Act could become an important foundation for future plans that shift further left.
So will the Medicare For All Act become law? No. Even co-signer Al Franken called the bill "aspirational" and "a starting point" in a Facebook post. But that doesn't matter. What matters is that, as Republicans present another plan consisting of block grants and pre-existing condition waivers, Democrats have begun to put forward a singular, comprehensive approach to health care – even if it has to wait.
Commentary by Jennifer Fitzgerald, the CEO and co-founder of PolicyGenius, an independent digital insurance company for consumers. Previously, she was a junior partner at McKinsey & Company where she advised Fortune 100 financial services companies on marketing and strategy. She is a graduate of Columbia Law School and Florida State University. Follow her on Twitter @jenlfitzgerald.
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