Democrats, newly in control of Congress and the White House, are united behind an idea that Republican lawmakers and major drugmakers fiercely oppose: empowering the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate the prices of brand-name drugs covered by Medicare. This story also ran on Fortune. It can be republished for free. But they do not have enough votes without Republican support in the Senate for the legislation they hope will lower the price consumers pay for prescription drugs. That raises the possibility that Democrats will use a legislative tactic called reconciliation, as they did to pass President Joe Biden’s covid relief package, or even eliminate the Senate filibuster to keep their promise to voters.
ByElisabeth Rosenthal and Shefali Luthra, Kaiser Health News |
After decades in the political wilderness, “Medicare-for-all” and single-payer health care are suddenly popular. The words appear in political advertisements and are cheered at campaign rallies — even in deep-red states. They are promoted by a growing number of high-profile Democratic candidates, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York and Rep. Beto O’Rourke in Texas. Republicans are concerned enough that this month President Donald Trump wrote a scathing op-ed essay that portrayed Medicare for all as a threat to older people and to American freedom. It is not that.
Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall support a Medicare buy-in bill that would allow individuals and companies to buy into the federally-run health care program, the latest bill to address healthcare introduced by Democrats that has little chance to pass in the Republican-controlled Congress. Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, and Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, introduced the legislation this week along with nine co-sponsors including the two New Mexico Democrats. Sponsors of the bill say it will pay for itself through premiums and that it would drive down private insurance premiums because of the new competition. The Murphy-Merkley bill, dubbed the Choose Medicare Act, would give both individuals and companies the option of buying health insurance coverage through a Medicare plan instead of private insurance.
Both of New Mexico’s U.S. senators support the “Medicare for all” legislation proposed by Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich each said Tuesday they would cosponsor the effort. “I believe that health care is a human right, and that all New Mexicans – and all Americans – should be able to see a doctor when they’re sick,” Udall said. “A hardworking single mother in New Mexico deserves the same quality health care for herself and her family as a multimillionaire CEO.
The New Mexico electoral landscape is taking shape to the extent that early indicators are suggesting a clear change of power. Republicans have ruled the state for the majority of the last eight years. However, in these upcoming elections the New Mexico Democratic Party can potentially end the nightmare here in the Land of Enchantment that is unfolding in earnest for the rest of the nation. The question swirling throughout the Black community is, does it remain loyal to a Democratic Party that is failing to champion their interests, concerns and placing the future of all Black Americans at risk? For example, since the confirmation of the new United States attorney general, the U.S. Department of Justice has relented on a commitment to reducing and preventing excessive use of force by law enforcement, reforming the justice system and reducing the number of incarcerated Blacks.
U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich joined with other Senators, including Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, to introduce legislation to allow the importation of some pharmaceuticals from other countries. The senators announced the new legislation Tuesday, and Heinrich said the United States has the safest pharmaceutical system in the world, but also an expensive system. “Details matter and I think this legislation gets the details right,” Heinrich said while announcing his support of the legislation. “I think it preserves the sort of system that has given us the safest pharmaceutical supply in the world while at the same time using a free market, market-based approach to driving down those costs.”
This came more than a month after Heinrich voted against a Sanders-sponsored amendment to a bill that sought to allow Americans to buy prescription drugs from other countries. The amendment, backed by many progressives, failed on a 52-48 vote.
Martin Heinrich was one of 13 Democratic U.S. senators who voted against legislation earlier this week that would have allowed Americans to buy prescription drugs from other countries. The measure, a health care reform idea often supported by progressives, came as an amendment to legislation aimed at changing Senate rules to allow majority votes on budget bills. The procedural changes, which the Senate narrowly approved in the early hours of Thursday, are the first step in Republican plans to repeal as much of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, as they can. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent senator who unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic Party presidential nomination last year, sponsored the amendment with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota. Senators rejected the amendment on a 52-48 margin, with 12 Republicans casting their votes in favor.
Between campaign rallies in Colorado and Arizona for Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders stopped in Albuquerque to spoke at a short rally for the Democratic nominee for president. Coming off his loss to Clinton in a contested race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sanders focused his speech on policies on which both he and the former U.S. Secretary of State agree. The independent U.S. Senator from Vermont also spent much of his 30 minutes criticizing Republican nominee Donald Trump, whom he called “racist,” “xenophobic” and “sexist.”
“We cannot support a candidate who is running a campaign based on racism, based on sexism, based on dividing us up,” Sanders told a crowd of roughly 1,000 people gathered Tuesday in the middle of the University of New Mexico campus. “That is not acceptable.”
Sanders listed off Clinton’s stances on issues like campaign finance reform, climate change, raising taxes on the wealthy and immigration. For example, Sanders said he and Clinton both support doubling federal funding for community health centers and forgiving student debt on doctors and health care workers who commit to practicing in underserved areas after graduation.
Donald Trump’s running mate is making another campaign appearance in New Mexico, days after a rally by a high-profile Hillary Clinton surrogate. Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana and the running mate of the Republican presidential nominee, will appear at the Embassy Suites hotel in Albuquerque this Thursday, according to the Trump campaign website. Pence campaigned in Albuquerque and Roswell in August. In August, top Republicans, including Congressman Steve Pearce and state House Majority Whip Alonzo Baldonado, R-Los Lunas, and state Rep. and Secretary of State candidate Nora Espinoza, R-Roswell, spoke at the Pence rally. Trump himself headlined a rally ahead of the Republican primary in Albuquerque.
Bernie Sanders will be headed back to New Mexico Tuesday, this time to campaign on behalf of his former opponent in the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton. The Clinton campaign announced Sunday the Vermont Senator will headline a get-out-to-vote rally. Unsurprisingly, the Sanders rally will take place on the University of New Mexico campus, in front of Mesa Vista Hall near the Student Union Building. Doors open at 10 am and the rally is expected to start at 11 am. During the Democratic primary, Sanders received a high level of support among younger voters, including those attending college.