More than 100 House Democrats plan to unveil a new “Medicare-for-all” plan Wednesday to provide government health insurance to every American, according to a copy of the bill provided to The Washington Post, as a number of Democratic-leading presidential candidates for 2020 feud over the party’s health-care platform.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is expected to release legislation Wednesday that incorporates key policy demands of single-payer activists, aiming to overhaul the U.S. health-care system even faster and more dramatically than legislation proposed in 2017 by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Jayapal’s Medicare-for-all would move every American onto one government insurer in two years, while providing everyone with medical, vision, dental and long-term care at no cost. Similar proposals have been projected to increase federal expenditures by at least $30 trillion but virtually eradicate individuals’ health spending by eliminating payments such as premiums and deductibles. About 30 million Americans do not have insurance, while tens of millions more are “underinsured,” meaning they cannot afford or do not seek care, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.
The bill has 106 co-sponsors but essentially no chance of passing the House or Republican-controlled Senate this term. It comes amid a wider debate about the meaning of Medicare-for-all in Democratic policy circles, as some presidential candidates and center-left think tanks have said they support both Medicare-for-all while also aiming to preserve private insurance that currently enrolls about 150 million Americans. Jayapal’s plan would leave only a minimal role for private insurance in the United States, similar to Sanders’s bill in the Senate.
“We have a plan. We have a real plan,” Jayapal told reporters, calling the state of U.S. health care “atrocious” and dominated by a handful of wealthy corporate interests. “Americans are literally dying because they cannot afford insulin and can’t get the cancer treatments they need . . . I think this Medicare-for-all bill makes it clear what we mean by health care for all. We mean a complete transformation of our health-care system.”
The plan is, in a number of ways, more aggressive than the Sanders plan co-sponsored by more than a dozen Democratic senators, including presidential candidates Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). It is also significantly more detailed than the previous single-payer bill in the House introduced by then-Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), which at about 30 pages outlined only a set of goals with few legislative specifics.