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Democrats discuss Medicare for All legislation on Capitol Hill last year. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Let’s jump into the debate Democrats are going to be having for at least the next two years: What, exactly, constitutes “Medicare for All”?

Why it matters: Supporting some version of “Medicare for All” has become a litmus test for a lot of Democratic primaries in 2018, and will surely be one in 2020.

What they’re saying: Tim Higginbotham and Chris Middleman, organizers with the Democratic Socialists of America’s Medicare for All campaign, pushed back against the squishier definitions of the term in a Vox op-ed on Friday.

  • “We need a true single-payer system, not a patchwork … effectively abolishing the private health insurance industry altogether.”
  • That single program should cover everyone, should provide services like mental and dental health, and should be free at the point of service (no co-pays or deductibles), they said.

The other side: Try writing, for example, a health policy newsletter that treats “Medicare for All” and “single-payer” as synonyms, and you’ll hear from the Democrats who support a less sweeping program, like an optional Medicare buy-in.

  • Medicare, they accurately note, relies heavily on private insurance. Why should “Medicare for All” have to mean pure single-payer when that’s not what Medicare is today?

My thought bubble: Hardly anyone is actually talking about a literal expansion of the existing Medicare program, whether voluntary or compulsory.

  • Medicare today doesn't meet the definition DSA has laid out. Neither does Canada's single-payer system, for that matter. Medicare also doesn't cover things like maternity care, which more center-left proposals would change.
  • If this ever gets resolved, it will be during the 2020 primary at the earliest — not in 2018, when a raft of Democratic candidates across the center-left spectrum truly are benefitting from the term’s vague popularity.

Go deeper

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.

8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Kaine, Collins pitch Senate colleagues on censuring Trump

Sen. Tim Kaine speaks with Sen. Susan Collins. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump, three sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction in his second impeachment.