Democrats in the House of Representatives have unveiled their official Medicare for All bill under the lead of Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington). The bill gained more than 100 co-sponsors before it was officially presented to the House floor, a promising aspect for supporters of the movement toward universal healthcare.
What would the bill accomplish?
Here’s what the bill would do:
- Create a single-payer, government-funded healthcare system
- Abolish the age restrictions of Medicare
- Cover every American within two years
- Eliminate beneficiaries’ copays, premiums, and deductibles
- Cover prescription drugs, vision, dental, mental health, substance abuse, and maternal care
- Provide long-term coverage for people with disabilities
The bill does not include how the program would be funded as is typical of this type of bill, but Jayapal has indicated it would be funded through taxing the ultra-wealthy and corporations at higher rates. Although increased taxes cause some to balk, a 2018 study found that Medicare for All would save the government and taxpayers trillions.
The origin of Medicare for All
The original Medicare for All bill was first introduced by Representative John Conyers (D-Michigan) in 2003.
Senator Bernie Sanders helped bring Medicare for All center stage when he ran for president in 2016 and championed the movement. After losing the election, he continued to move the measure forward by drafting a bill similar to Conyers’ in 2017 and received endorsements from 16 co-sponsors.
Who supports the bill?
Congressional Republicans have been quick to shoot down the bill, calling it radical, one step closer to socialism, and government interference between doctor-patient relationships.
Several Democratic contenders for the 2020 presidential race are running on platforms of Medicare for All, including:
- Senator Cory Booker
- Senator Kamala Harris
- Former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro
- Representative Tulsi Gabbard
- Author Marianne Williamson
- Former tech executive Andrew Yang
Other candidates have called for measures that would slowly bring the country closer to universal health coverage, or plans that would allow private plans to stay intact while ensuring every American has coverage.
A poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that the majority of Americans are in favor of expanding public health coverage. As far as Democrats were concerned, 81 percent of those polled were in favor of Medicare for All.
The poll also found the following to be true regardless of the participants’ party affiliation:
- 77% would support expanding the Medicare eligibility age to include people age 50 and up,
- 74% would support a national healthcare system open to anyone, and
- 56% would support Medicare for All specifically.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to throw her support behind the bill and definitively say if she will bring it to a vote on the House floor. If the measure manages to pass in the House, it’s very unlikely the Republican Senate majority will pass it as well.