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Vulnerable House Dems Back Bernie Sanders’ Left-Wing ‘Medicare For All’ Proposal

Several House Democrats who are running in competitive congressional elections in 2024 have signed onto a new “Medicare For All” proposal by left-wing Democrats.

The proposal, known as the “Medicare For All Act of 2023,” was announced on Wednesday by Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, along with Democratic Reps. Debbie Dingell of Michigan and Pramila Jayapal of Washington, who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, with the support of half of all House Democrats, according to a press release. “Medicare for All,” a term coined by Sanders during his 2016 presidential campaign, refers to a proposal for a single, universal health insurance program across the United States run by the federal government, which has been estimated to cost approximately $32 trillion over a ten-year period.

Cosponsors of the legislation include several Democratic representatives who are running in competitive House races in 2024, such as Rep. Jahana Hayes of Connecticut, who won her seat by just 0.8% over Republican George Logan in 2022, underperforming her district’s 2022 Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) Rating of D+3.

Included among the co-sponsors are three vulnerable House Democrats from Pennsylvania — Reps. Matt Cartwright, Susan Wild and Chris Deluzio. Cartwright represents the Eighth District, including President Joe Biden’s hometown Scranton, with a 2022 PVI score of R+5, and was re-elected with a small 2.4% majority after a challenge from GOP contender Jim Bognet.

Wild, similarly, won re-election by just 1.6% in 2022 to the neighboring Seventh District, covering Allentown, which has a PVI of R+2. Deluzio, a first-term congressman representing areas outside Pittsburgh, won his swing seat in the 17th district by 6.4%, though it has a PVI score of “Even.”

A 2020 poll shows that Medicare for All, which under Sanders’s and Jayapal’s recent plan would involve tax increases, was unpopular in Pennsylvania, with 51% of voters against the idea compared to 40% in support, according to polling by Third Way. Cartwright, Wild and Deluzio’s districts comprise largely rural areas, which would see lower spending on hospital care under the Medicare for All Act, according to an analysis published in the Lancet.

Joining them is Democratic Rep. Mike Levin of California, who represents the state’s 49th District – covering Northern San Diego and Oceanside – and who won his seat by 5.2% in 2022, a relatively low margin compared to other Southern California Democrats.

He was joined by Rep. Katie Porter, who represents the neighboring 47th District yet is running for the state’s U.S. Senate seat being vacated by fellow Democrat Dianne Feinstein. Porter won her House Seat – which covers the conservative areas of Orange County and Newport Beach – by a slim margin of 3.2% in 2022, with her seat having the lowest Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) Score for a Democrat in Southern California.

Both Porter and Levin’s support comes despite California’s state Democrats killing a single-payer proposal in 2022 after a coalition of 130 business groups called it a “job killer” and “exorbitantly expensive government bureaucracy” while lobbying against passage. Porter and Levin’s California seats are considered “prime pick-up opportunities” for Republicans in 2024 by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Other co-sponsors of the proposal include Democratic Reps. Andrea Salinas of Oregon, who won her Sixth District seat in the suburbs of Portland by 2.5% in 2022, and Dina Titus of Nevada, who was re-elected by a slim margin of 3.8% to represent Las Vegas despite being a six-term incumbent.

Republicans have broadly opposed Medicare For All, arguing that it would lead to higher taxes and poorer healthcare outcomes for most Americans. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said that the proposal is tantamount to “socialism,” while Biden vowed during the 2020 presidential campaign that he “will not support Medicare for All” and would veto such legislation.

All the Democratic members named in this story, as well as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, have been contacted for a comment.

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