Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders released an updated version of his Medicare-for-all proposal on Wednesday, as the policy gains momentum among some Democrats in the run-up to the 2020 election.
The idea behind the proposal is to expand coverage of the government-run program to all Americans, not just those over the age of 65. These types of plans would largely eliminate the role of the private insurance market. They would also eliminate deductibles, co-pays and insurance premiums.
One controversial point is how such a policy would be paid for. According to one estimate, which was disputed by Sanders’ campaign, Medicare-for-all could cost more than $32 trillion over the course of a decade.
Sanders’ revised bill includes long-term care coverage. It would also cover dental, vision and hearing. The legislation allows for a four-year phase-in period. More than a dozen other senators have signed onto the bill as co-sponsors.
Earlier this year, California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris, a 2020 contender, announced support for a Medicare-for-all plan that would also potentially eliminate the entire private insurance market.
Sanders unveiled his initial bill in 2017, which, at the time, received support from Harris, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker – all of whom are vying for their party’s nomination. The same lawmakers also support the most recent bill.
Democrats in the House of Representatives unveiled a Medicare-for-all proposal in February, which has support from more than 100 members in the chamber. According to estimates from the bill’s supporters, it would save Americans up to 14 percent on health care costs each year. The bill does not include cost estimates or financing strategies.
One potential 2020 contender that does not support Medicare-for-all? Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who said during a Fox News townhall last week that the policy was not a good idea. Instead he voiced support for universal catastrophic coverage – an income-based health insurance plan.
Meanwhile, President Trump appears to welcome a battle over health care. As the White House recommits to efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, the president has said that the Republican Party “will soon become the party of health care.”