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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

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Democrats settling on 25% corporate tax rate

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The universe of Democratic senators concerned about raising the corporate tax rate to 28% is broader than Sen. Joe Manchin, and the rate will likely land at 25%, parties close to the discussion tell Axios.

Why it matters: While increasing the rate from 21% to 25% would raise about $600 billion over 15 years, it would leave President Biden well short of paying for his proposed $2.25 trillion, eight-year infrastructure package.

GOP pivot: Big business to small dollars

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Republican leaders turned to grassroots supporters and raked in sizable donations after corporations cut them off post-Jan. 6.

Why it matters: If those companies hoped to push the GOP toward the center, they may have done just the opposite by turning Republican lawmakers toward their most committed — and ideologically driven — supporters.

CDC: Half of U.S. adults have received one COVID-19 vaccine dose

Data: CDC; Chart: Axios Visuals

Half of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and about a third are fully vaccinated, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are still on the rise, CDC director Rochelle Walensky said during Friday's White House COVID-19 briefing. With cases in many states being driven by variants, public health officials have emphasized the need to ramp up vaccinations.