Medicare for All may have been a fringe position just two years ago, but a survey of Louisiana’s 2018 Democratic congressional candidates shows nearly unanimous support for the policy. 3rd district candidate Mimi Methvin, who’s running against Congressman Clay Higgins, says it may take some time to build consensus for a Medicare expansion, but says the Affordable Care Act as is isn’t enough.
“We need to get corporate profit out of the equation. Corporations are running government policy on this, so that corporate profits are preserved and the American people suffer.”
Support from the candidates for Medicare for All comes in two flavors: allowing people to buy into the program, or blanket coverage from birth, with ten of the eleven candidates backing at least one of the two versions. 2nd District incumbent Cedric Richmond has crafted legislation for a Medicare buy in.
Sixth District candidate Andie Saizon, who’s running against Congressman Garret Graves, says the country needs to take corporate profit out of the health care equation.
Methvin and Saizon support a buy-in option.
“We take tax payers money, and we give it to for profit insurance companies who bet against the interest of the people in order to make profits. That’s a problem.”
Medicare for All gained a more substantial national profile after Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders' run in the 2016 Democratic Primary. The increased profile for the plan, that would require a substantial federal investment, has led to a surge of progressive and socialist candidates jumping into congressional races. Some of that enthusiasm has led to major upsets in elections in other parts of the country, and support for Medicare expansion seems to have made it's way into Democratic races even in traditionally conservative states.
A March poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found 59 percent of people in support of automatic Medicare coverage for all citizens. This included a majority of Democrats and Independents, as well as a third of Republicans.
But the progressive Democratic push for national healthcare may not mean much for elections in the ruby red Bayou State, which is dominated at nearly every level by the Republican Party. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says Medicare for All may be popular with voters, but it’s unlikely to result in any fall upsets in Louisiana.
“Talking about Medicare and Medicaid, is positive, but on the other hand is certainly not something that is going to scare any Republican into thinking that they’re in trouble.”
Over the last three decades statewide elected Democrats have replaced the brown pelican on the Louisiana’s endangered species list. A March Quinnipiac Poll shows national favorability ratings for the Democratic party at 31 percent, and Pinsonat says until that changes they’ll be weighed down by the letter next to their names.
“They’re running with the so-called political anchors of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, there’s nobody out there that thinks they are going to seriously challenge any of our current Republican congressman. Their outlook is bleak.”
One Democratic candidate, Larry Rader, could not be reached for the story.
*Story updated with response from 5th district candidate Jessee Fleenor, who mentioned his support for Medicare for All.