On Saturday, one high-profile congresswoman-elect called for health care reform, and used her own congressional health care options to bolster her argument. In a Tweet, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said her health care would be cheaper as a member of Congress than it was while she was waiting tables.
"In my on-boarding to Congress, I get to pick my insurance plan," Ocasio-Cortez wrote. "As a waitress, I had to pay more than TWICE what I’d pay as a member of Congress. It’s frustrating that Congressmembers would deny other people affordability that they themselves enjoy. Time for #MedicareForAll."
Since winning her election in November, Ocasio-Cortez has developed a reputation for speaking candidly not only about her own beliefs, but about what the onboarding process for new congressional members actually entails. Using social media — Instagram and Twitter, especially — she has offered a glimpse into the lesser-known aspects of what it is like to be elected to Congress. This included her revealing observation about the cost of Congressional health care.
"People don’t want overly complicated choice between pricey, low-quality plans," she wrote in a follow-up tweet on Sunday. "We want an affordable solution that covers our needs, like the rest of the modern world. Medicare for All: - Single-payer system - Covers physical, mental, & dental care - 0 due *at point of service*."
"Medicare for all" has been framed as a divisive issue for years, but two recent polls indicate that the majority of Americans might be getting on board with the idea. An October poll conducted by Hill.TV and the HarrisX polling company found that 70 percent support the idea, according to The Hill, and a separate August poll released by Reuters-Ipsos returned the same figure.
Ocasio-Cortez continued to tweet about the issue as the weekend wore on. When one critic claimed that Medicare For All would produce so-called "death panels" — theoretical boards that would ration health care for enrollees — Ocasio-Cortez did not mince words.
"Actually, we have for-profit 'death panels' now: they are companies + boards saying you’re on your own bc they won’t cover a critical procedure or medicine," she wrote. "Maybe if the GOP stopped hiding behind this 'socialist' rock they love to throw, they’d actually engage on-issue for once."
The congresswoman-elect continued to defend her stance. In yet another tweet sent on Sunday, Ocasio-Cortez argued that a large portion of Pentagon spending could be repurposed to fund Medicare For All.
Ocasio-Cortez made history this year when she became one of the youngest women ever elected to Congress. In the interim she has taken not only herself to Washington, but her social media savvy audience, as well. And if the reactions to her Instagram Live videos —as well as her tweets — are any indication, her following appears to be particularly engaged with what she has to say.
The confluence of politics and social media is still so new that it's impossible to predict what impact it will have on Ocasio-Cortez's first term in Congress. But what does appear clear is that the incoming congresswoman is adept at using it to, at the very least, reach her audience.