While a growing number of Senate Democrats with potential 2020 presidential ambitions are publicly embracing Senator Bernie Sanders’s single-payer health care proposal, the number two House Democrat raised questions about the approach Tuesday, saying the “first objective” of House Democrats is fixing Obamacare.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, told reporters that the single payer approach is one of several ideas that Democrats are discussing, saying the party is united on principle of giving “access for Americans to offer quality, affordable health care.”
But he also said that single payer has “significant administrative issues” and said that he and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are focused on “preserving the (Affordable Care Act) and making it work better.”
When pressed about the potential problems the effort by the progressive wing of the party could have on Democratic candidates in competitive House districts on the issue of health care, Hoyer maintained that he wasn’t concerned about any fallout. But he repeated that he and Pelosi share view that the “immediate objective” is to protect Obamacare.
Sanders is slated to roll out his new health care legislation Wednesday and several Senate Democrats have announced they will co-sponsor the bill including Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kristin Gillibrand of New York and Al Franken of Minnesota.
Political operatives agree that control of the House is in play in the upcoming 2018 midterms. Some Democrats are worried that pressure from the base of the party to move to the left on health care could negatively impact centrist Democrats in suburban areas where there is likely less support for a single payer proposal.