Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force Recommends Public Option over Single-Payer

July 10, 2020

In an effort to unite Democratic moderates and progressives, a task force of Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) supporters released a number of consensus proposals, including several health care reform ideas that could form the basis for legislation in 2021.

Notably, the plan does not call for a single payer system, but instead focuses on public options to implement universal coverage, while providing little detail.

The unity task force plan recommends:

  • Making available a public option to all Americans, including those with employer-sponsored insurance.  The option would be administered by Medicare without deductibles and cover all primary care without co-payments.  Medicare eligibility would also be reduced to age 60 instead of 65.

  • Reducing health care costs for individuals and families by eliminating the cap on ACA subsidies and capping premiums at 8.5% of an individual’s income.

  • Reducing drug prices by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices for public and private purchasers, limiting future price increases to the rate of inflation, and cracking down on the patent system.

  • Eliminating health care disparities by collecting and analyzing health data by race, gender, geography, and disability status.

  • Improving public health during the coronavirus pandemic by allowing those who have lost their insurance as a result of the pandemic to enroll in a deductible-free government administered health plan until the coronavirus pandemic ends.

Restore U.S. supply chains:  Separately, the Biden campaign released a three-part plan to rebuild U.S. supply chains to ensure the country is prepared for future crises and does not face shortages of critical products, including pharmaceuticals.

Why it's important:  The plan stops short of embracing a more progressive single-payer government-run health care system.  However, it suggests an openness to government intervention if certain market failures do not correct themselves, particularly regarding the high cost of health care in the U.S.

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