Rep. Pramila Japal warned Monday that Democrats may experience a lot of pain in the midterm elections if they fail fundamentally to fulfill their healthcare-related campaign promises. rangedFrom lowering Medicare eligibility age to tackling sky-high drug costs,
“It has been a concern for us,” Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and lead sponsorThe Medicare for All Act of 2021 toldThe Washington Post. “You can see it with the number of Democrats in vulnerable districts across the country who want to be able to go back and tell people that we’ve lowered their costs for child care, for pre-K, for elder care, for drug pricing, for healthcare.”
The stagnation of Democrats’ $1.75 trillion Build Back Better package — thanks in large part to opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and other right-wing lawmakers — has increased the likelihood that the party will enter campaign season having accomplished little on healthcare, which voters consistently viewAs a top priority.
Republicans have obstructed the Democratic counterparts at every turn, are well-favored to retake House in midterms, riding a wave voter suppressionAnd aggressive map-rigging.
The current, dramatically reduced version of Build Back Better Act contains a new hearing benefit for Medicare and provisions that reduce sky-high insurance premiums prescription drugPolicy changes and costs aimed at addressing this problem. Medicaid coverage gap.
Corporate-backed right-wing Democrats including Manchin rescinded more ambitious proposals to lower Medicare eligibility to 60 and to add vision and dental coverage to the program.
The Medicare for All Act — which has the support of a majority of the House Democratic caucus and the public, but not President Joe Biden — hasn’t even been put on the table for discussion. The Democratic Party’s 2020 platformUnveiled amid the Covid-19 pandemic. It mentions Medicare for All once, but doesn’t endorse it.
The failure of Congress and the Biden Administration to act has left pharmaceutical companies in limbo raising prices for prescription drugs at will and Medicare beneficiaries are facing a massive premium hike — neither of which bode well for the party in full control of the federal government.
The healthcare provisions that have survived Build Back Better talks thus far are likely to crumble if Democrats aren’t able to salvage the bill, which has been put on hold as the party focuses on voting rights legislation that also faces long oddsIn the Senate
“We’ve campaigned for a long time on taking it to the drug companies and passing the bulk negotiation of prices. It’s something that voters understand,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told the Post. “I think it’s problematic if we can’t get that done.”
Some frontline Democrats are now at risk because the Senate has enacted the entire Build Back Better Act calling on the party’s leadership to break the bill into pieces and hold votes on popular individual elements, including prescription drug price reforms.
“People want to know that the people they elect can get things done that are going to make a difference in the lives of ordinary citizens,” said Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.), who narrowly won reelection in 2020.
But some outside progressives argue such an approach would be a mistake and would not increase the likelihood of passage given that individual bills, unlike the full reconciliation package, would be subject to the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster.
“Breaking up BBB at this point when Democrats have foolishly given away all their leverage (by releasing [the bipartisan infrastructure bill]) will only reward and embolden obstruction — while further diluting an already milquetoast bill,” tweeted progressive media strategist Murshed Zaheed.
Ellen Sciales (a spokesperson for Sunrise Movement youth-led Sunrise Movement) echoed the criticism in a statementTo the Post.
“The idea of breaking up BBB into smaller bills is a false choice for Democrats,” she said. “Everything in the Build Back Better Act is urgently needed.”
“Democrats have a trifecta right now, and instead of pitting programs and communities against each other, the White House and Senate leaders should figure out a way to bring the last two senators on board,” Sciales added, referring to Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). “It’s clear the tactic of negotiating in private is failing, and we’re quickly losing our window of opportunity to act.”