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Single-Payer Litmus Test Causing Trouble in Harry Reid’s Backyard

Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare For All” is already creating friction between his supporters and establishment Democrats.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is expected to propose legislation next month in support of his Medicare For All program, a proposal that would move the U.S. health care system to a single-payer model if enacted.

The bill has become a bit of a litmus test for Democrats since Sanders’ defeat in the 2016 Democratic primary. Medicare For All was a rallying cry for Sanders supporters during the primary.

But it’s causing friction between those supporters and establishment Democrats in 2017. Politico reports that an altercation between Sanders and retired Democrat Harry Reid occurred over the soon-to-be-announced bill:

With Sanders promising to play a major role in 2018 races, that’s led many party officials to worry about the prospect of his involvement in primaries that could upend the Democratic establishment’s plans to win crucial House, Senate, and gubernatorial seats.

The fears are acute enough that when the Nevada chapter of Our Revolution – the political group spawned from the Sanders presidential campaign – endorsed long-shot candidate Jesse Sbaih in the state’s Democratic Senate primary over party favorite Rep. Jacky Rosen, retired former Sen. Harry Reid felt the need to call Sanders directly.

Don’t endorse Sbaih, and don’t let the national Our Revolution group accept its Nevada chapter’s recommendation to back him either, the former minority leader implored his friend. Sanders agreed, said a Democrat familiar with the interaction.

But Reid’s real fear should be Sanders’ supporters, and not the politician himself. One needs only to look back at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last year to remember the kind of heartburn Sanders’ supporters can cause establishment Democrats.

To be sure, the fault lines within the Democratic Party, which came to light during the 2016 primary, are sure to become even bigger cracks this fall.