Huffington Post, Daniel Marans

In a sign that the Democratic Party is embracing more progressive health care ideas, eight Democratic senators announced Thursday that they were co-sponsoring legislation that would allow people 55 and older to buy into Medicare.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) introduced the Medicare at 55 Act with the immediate support of Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Jack Reed (R.I.) and Al Franken (Minn.).

The bill, which would allow Americans aged 55 to 64 to purchase Medicare coverage, reflects the growing influence of progressive activists who are pushing for a single-payer health care system they dub “Medicare for all.”

Although the bill stops short of making Medicare universal, its embrace of expanded public health insurance, rather than the private model at the heart of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, marks a distinct leftward shift for the party.

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