As the Assembly session opens and progressive groups call for big changes in the state's health care regime under the banner "Medicare for All," Assembly Democrats "are reintroducing their bill to establish a health care mandate, similar to the federal mandate that existed under the Affordable Care Act until Congress and President Trump eliminated it in the 2017 tax reform package," say Josh Kurtz and Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters in their omnibus session preview. Progressive activists hope this is a wedge to do better in Maryland but understand that state legislatures are always reduced to playing small-ball where full-bore health care advances are concerned. But as Hal Ginsberg points out, the ground swell behind real health care reform -- Bernie Sanders's Medicare for All bill, doubtless soon to be refiled in the 116th Congress -- attracted major support from senators who are in the mix for the 2020 presidential nomination, including Sen. Kamala Harris of California (now an early and likely superheavyweight primary state).
/By Hal Ginsberg/
I believe that health care should be a right, but the reality is that it is still a privilege in this country. We need that to change. When someone gets sick, there is already so much else to deal with: the physical pain for the patient, the emotional pain for the family. There is often a sense of desperation — of helplessness — as we grapple with the fear of the unknown. Medical procedures already have risks. Prescription drugs already have side effects. Financial anxiety should not be one of them.
Kamala Harris, New York Times (Dec 30, 2018)
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris is on the short list of credible 2020 Democratic challengers to President Trump. Having moved its primary up three months to early March, California is likely to play a pivotal role in the nominating process for the first time in over 50 years. This should benefit the former California Attorney General who will be viewed as a favorite daughter by many in the Golden State.
Harris's record is not all a progressive could wish for, as Branko Marketic laid out last year in Jacobin's descriptively-titled The Two Faces of Kamala Harris. Still, on a recent New York Times op-ed page, Harris embraces Bernie Sanders' Medicare-for-all Senate bill wholeheartedly. Harris is one of several high-profile Democrats, along with other Presidential hopefuls Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Elizabeth Warren, now on the single-payer train.
Sanders and his supporters can look with a measure of satisfaction at this widespread acceptance of a core democratic socialist ideal. Certainly there is reason to question the sincerity of corporate-funded Democrats like Cory Booker. After all, there is no likelihood that Medicare-for-all will make it through the Republican-controlled Senate. But Harris's impassioned unequivocal support should hearten health care advocates that change may indeed come . . . and soon.
Hal Ginsberg is co-chair of Our Revolution Montgomery County and a frequent blogger for Progressive Maryland. He blogs at halginsberg.com