Pelosi Bucks 'Medicare for All' Legislation: It Is Not a 'Litmus Test'


Nancy Pelosi
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi / Getty Images
September 12, 2017

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) on Tuesday said that she will not back Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I., Vt.) "Medicare for All" legislation.

Pelosi said that she would not be joining some of her Democratic colleagues in supporting the single-payer health care plan and instead called on Democrats to offer proposals to improve former President Barack Obama's health care law, the Washington Post reported:

"I don't think it's a litmus test," Pelosi said in an interview. "I think to support the idea that it captures is that we want to have as many people as possible, everybody, covered, and I think that’s something that we all embrace."

Pelosi said she would like all of the ideas to be vetted and analyzed by budget scorekeepers but she believes none of them will succeed while the ACA is under attack from Republicans.

"Right now I'm protecting the Affordable Care Act," Pelosi said. "None of these things, whether it's Bernie's or others can really prevail unless we protect the Affordable Care Act."

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) backed up Pelosi in remarks to reporters Tuesday, saying a Medicare-for-all healthcare system would have "significant administrative and other issues" and that the party's priority was to protect Obamacare, the Washington Examiner reported .

Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.), the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, told local Minnesota Democrats late last month that Pelosi secretly supports the "Medicare for All" legislation, but is not publicly supporting it because she does not want to get ahead of her "very diverse caucus."

Sanders has received support from a number of potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. Four of them have signed on to co-sponsor Sanders' "Medicare for All" bill.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) became the latest contender this week to sign on to the bill following the recently announced support of Sens. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), and Cory Booker (D., N.J.).

UPDATE: 1:08 P.M.: This article was updated with remarks by Hoyer.