U.S. House Democrats introduce sweeping ‘Medicare for All’ bill
(Reuters) – Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled an ambitious proposal on Tuesday to move all Americans into the government’s Medicare health insurance program, tapping into public frustration over the rising cost of healthcare that has become a key issue for the party as it seeks to gain control of Congress and the White House in 2020.
The bill, unveiled by Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal from Washington state, would transition the U.S. healthcare system to a single-payer “Medicare for All” program funded by the government in two years. The legislation is the party’s most high-profile and ambitious single-payer proposal in the new Congress and has more than 100 co-sponsors, many from the party’s progressive flank.
It is unlikely to gain the support of any Republicans in the House or the Senate, who have derided single-payer healthcare as a socialist policy and oppose government interference in healthcare. It also remains unclear whether Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will bring the legislation up for a vote.
“Americans are literally dying because they can’t afford insulin or they can’t get the cancer treatment they need,” Jayapal said on a call with reporters on Tuesday. “There are some things that should not be provided through the for-profit market.”
Medicare currently serves about 60 million Americans who are age 65 or older, or disabled. Jayapal’s legislation would eliminate the age threshold. The new Medicare would not require any beneficiaries to pay premiums or deductibles and would not charge patients co-pays or out-of-pocket costs after receiving care.
It does not include new or increased taxes or other additional revenues to pay for the healthcare overhaul. Jayapal said possible ways to pay for the bill include a tax on millionaires and billionaires, employer premiums and closing tax loopholes for the wealthy.
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