In mid-June, Democratic congressional candidate Nina Turner launched a television ad campaign promoting her support for Medicare for All. Less than two weeks later, the pharmaceutical industry’s lobbyists and its bankrolled lawmakers on Capitol Hill are trying to block her election to Congress through an opponent who has been publicly vilifying Medicare for All amid the pandemic.
A 2018 poll showed that Medicare for All is wildly popular in Northeast Ohio — and Turner is running in a district that has been represented for nearly 30 years by lawmakers who have supported legislation to create a government-sponsored single payer health care system. That includes Marcia Fudge, who left Congress to serve in President Joe Biden’s cabinet.
Pledging to carry on that legacy, Turner on June 15th launched her television spot entitled “Worry,” in which she talks about how her family’s struggle to pay health care bills led her to support Medicare for All.
The very next day, corporate lobbyists held a Washington fundraiser for Turner’s primary opponent, Shontel Brown. Among those headlining the fundraiser was Jerome Murray — a registered lobbyist for the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers Association, which has been backing a nationwide campaign to reduce support for Medicare for All.
The fundraiser was also headlined by a CVS Health lobbyist, as well as seven Democratic lawmakers who have raked in more than $5 million from donors in the pharmaceutical and health care sectors — including two whose top donating sector is the pharmaceutical industry.
The fundraiser followed Brown slamming Medicare for All, amid a pandemic that has seen more than 1 million Ohioans lose their employer-sponsored health care. Brown told Cleveland.com that while she would not oppose the legislation if it ever came to a vote on the House floor, “Medicare for All would eliminate employers from providing care for their employees. I know when I’m out in the community there are some people who are satisfied with the health care they’re being provided. I certainly don’t want to be the person to end that.”
Brown then rolled out an endorsement from Hillary Clinton, who infamously used her 2016 presidential campaign to declare that Medicare for All would “never, ever happen.”
Now, U.S. Rep. James Clyburn — one of the Democratic Party’s most outspoken opponents of Medicare for All — is intervening to try to halt Turner’s rise in the polls.
Clyburn has vacuumed in more than $1 million from donors in the pharmaceutical industry — and he previously made headlines vilifying Medicare for All during the 2020 presidential primary.
When a Medicare for All bill was first introduced in 2017, Clyburn signed on as a co-sponsor. But two years later, Clyburn removed himself as a sponsor and turned against single-payer health insurance, arguing that it would hurt the party in congressional elections.
Days before the South Carolina primary, Clyburn endorsed Biden, arguing that Democrats who supported Medicare for All had not helped the party win back its House majority in 2018. (Exit polls showed that a majority of South Carolina primary voters supported Medicare for all.)
After Democrats lost a dozen House seats in the 2020 election, Clyburn blamed progressive policies, including Medicare for All. “[If] we are going to run on Medicare for All, defund the police, socialized medicine, we're not going to win," Clyburn said on a call with Democrats about the upcoming Georgia senate special election.
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