House Holds First Ever Hearing on Medicare for All

May 03, 2019

The House Rules Committee held the first hearing on the Democrats’ Medicare for All bill, which would abolish employer-sponsored health care.

The bill would implement a government takeover of health care coverage, where all medically necessary services would be paid for by the federal government and all private insurance that duplicates government coverage, including employer-sponsored health care, would be prohibited.  Enrollment would be universal and automatic, and patients would no longer pay any out-of-pocket costs for health care services.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) introduced the House bill.  A similar bill was recently reintroduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the Senate. 

The price tag: Charles Blahous of the Mercatus Center, who testified against the bill, projects that the net cost of the proposal would reach at least $32.6 trillion in the first ten years.  Committee Chairman James McGovern (D-MA) countered that "we're spending an awful lot on health care right now, and we're not getting the services and effectiveness that we're all demanding."

Experimenting with a public option: Sara Collins of the Commonwealth Fund, who testified in support of the bill, noted that finding the right payment rate to health care providers is a "critical design issue" of any public plan.  Collins recommended that policymakers consider offering a public option plan in parts of the country with few insurance options to experiment with provider rates.

The Partnership for Employer-Sponsored Coverage, an employer alliance of which HR Policy is a member, issued a statement for the hearing opposing the bill's prohibition against employment-based coverage:  “Dismantling our nation’s private sector employment-based health system would create utter chaos and massive disruptions to the care system for all Americans.  We urge Congress to devote its attention and resources toward issues to improve our current health care system such as increasing market competition, providing more coverage choices and access to providers for all Americans, and addressing systematic cost drivers and wasteful spending.”