FUN FACT: Bernie Sanders supported ACA 2.0...until 3 weeks ago.

A little over a year ago, on March 21, 2018, Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced a robust ACA 2.0 upgrade bill in the U.S. Senate called the "Consumer Health Insurance Protection Act", or CHIPA. It was largely a companion bill to a House version which had been introduced a couple of weeks earlier by Reps. Frank Pallone, Bobby Scott and Richard Neal, although there were some significant differences as well.

At the time, I noted that besides both bills including many "wish list" items which I've been hoping would be added to the ACA for several years now, Warren's Senate CHIPA bill was also noteworthy for one other reason: The list of cosponsors:

...Sanders is actually a co-sponsor of the Warren bill, as are Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.), Maggie Hassan (N.H.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Tammy Baldwin (Wis.).

Yes, that's Sanders as in U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The same guy with a large number of supporters who smear the ACA as a minor improvement over the prior healthcare situation at best and as a total sellout to the Neoliberal Evil Corporate Overlords at worst, and who insist that the only acceptable next step in healthcare reform is Bernie's Medicare for All bill. As I noted at the time:

I wonder how these folks are gonna respond to today's news that Bernie Sanders himself is on board with Senator Warren's "ACA 2.0" bill? Will I receive an apology for being referred to as part of the "corrupted and compromised wing of the party?" Will Bernie be accused of "betrayal" for "creating divisive efforts like ACA 2.0"? I'm not holding my breath.

Needless to say, no apology was forthcoming, nor was there any calling out of Bernie for falling short of the same purity standards that they insist everyone else follow.

I noted the hypocrisy and cynicism at play in late March of this year, when Sanders, just before rolling out a new version of his MFA bill, decided to throw the House ACA 2.0 bill (which had been re-introduced just one day earlier) under the bus by stating that he rejects any improvements to the ACA in the short term:

HAYES: “OK, so, you’re talking about ‘where we should go’, so I want to talk about that now. The Democrats introduced legislation in the House today that is focused on some reforms and modifications to Obamacare, particularly people who are in the exchanges who have very high premiums. Do you support the legislation the House produced today?”

SANDERS: “No. I support the Medicare for All single payer program. Look...”

HAYES: “Wait, so I just want to be you don’t support that incremental reform?”

SANDERS: “No. The incremental reform that I support is phasing in Medicare for All. First year, we would lower the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 55 and cover all of the children, and by the way, expand Medicare coverage for elderly people to include dental care, eyeglasses and hearing aids. That’s the incremental 4-year program that I wrote and that I support.”

HAYES: “Right...but I just want to be clear about this. So if that House bill were to come over to the Senate you would vote against it right now?”

SANDERS: “Look...right now, it’s...right now we are working on what I have fought for my entire life. Healthcare is a right. It has to be publicly funded, it has to be comprehensive.

As of March 27, 2019, Bernie was still listed as being a co-sponsor of the Senate ACA 2.0 bill, making his crapping all over the House version all the more disingenous.

Well, I don't know if Sanders or anyone on his team saw my post or not, but I just noticed something interesting.

On April 11th of this year, Sen. Warren quietly reintroduced her "CHIPA" ACA 2.0 bill. I heard nothing about this, so I'm assuming that this was purely a procedural move, since bills have to be formally introduced in each 2-year Congressional cycle in order to receive any consideration.

I haven't read through and compared it to last year's version, so it's possible that there have been some changes, but one change did jump out at me right off the bat: The list of co-sponsors:

In 2018, besides Warren, the co-sponsors included:

  • Sen. Kamala Harris
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
  • Sen. Tammy Baldwin
  • Sen. Maggie Hassan
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders

In the new version introdued 3 weeks ago (and just 2 weeks after Bernie badmouthed the House version), they include:

  • Sen. Kamala Harris
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
  • Sen. Tammy Baldwin
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar
  • Sen. Cory Booker
  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal

Aside from two more Presidential hopefuls jumping onto Warren's bill (for a total of five U.S. Senators who are also running for President!), along with Blumenthal, two of the original cosponsors are no longer onboard: Maggie Hassan (for reasons unknown)...and Bernie Sanders.

UPDATE: I should clarify that whether or not a member of the House or Senate officially co-sponsors any given bill has nothing to do with whether or not they would vote for it. It's conceivable that this was a simple clerical oversight, or that Bernie or his staffers simply didn't get around to re-upping his co-sponsorship (I have no idea if there's a formal process or whatever).

The difference here is that Bernie did officially cosponsor Warren's bill last year, then made a big show on national TV in March dumping all over the very-similar House version, and then had his name stripped from Warren's bill just two weeks later. That strikes me as either deliberately disingenuous or an incredible coincidence.

That's all I have to say for the moment...I'll add more if I find any substantive differences to the new version of CHIPA itself.