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After decades in the political wilderness, “Medicare for all” and single-payer health care are suddenly popular. The words appear in political advertisements and are cheered at campaign rallies—even in deep-red states. They are promoted by a growing number of high-profile Democratic candidates, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York and Rep. Beto O’Rourke in Texas.

Republicans are concerned enough that this month President Donald Trump wrote a scathing op-ed essay that portrayed “Medicare for all” as a threat to older people and to American freedom.

It is not that. But it is also unclear what, exactly, these proposals mean to many of the people who say they support the concept.


Related: Obama comes out in favor of Medicare for All


As a renegade candidate for the 2016 Democratic nomination for president, Sen. Bernie Sanders opened the door to such drastic reform. Now, with Republicans showing little aptitude for fixing an expensive, dysfunctional healthcare system, more voters, doctors, and politicians are walking through Sanders’ door.

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